Swine flu arrives in Multnomah County, health officials say

Oregon's first probable case of swine flu was identified late Wednesday following testing by the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory.

"The probable case was in a Multnomah County adult female who consulted her physician after experiencing flu-like symptoms," according to Dr. Mel Kohn, head of the Oregon Public Health Department. The woman, who was not hospitalized and is recovering normally, had contact with someone who had recently traveled to Mexico and been exposed to the swine flu there, he said.

The specimen from this case was sent to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for further characterization, with final results of testing expected in several days.

"It is very likely that this test will be confirmed by the final step of laboratory testing," Kohn said. "So we are not waiting — we are treating this as a case of swine flu."

This case is identified as probable, rather than confirmed, because the final step of testing has not yet been performed. However, she did test positive with non-typeable Influenza A. Results from the tests done so far by the CDC indicate that more than 95 percent of cases with this test result will ultimately test positive for the swine flu once the final step of testing is finished.

Portland metro area health departments are investigating the situation to identify who may have been exposed to this case, and to slow further transmission.

"Our first priorities are to provide information to people to help them protect themselves and to slow the spread of this new strain of flu virus," said Dr. Gary Oxman, health officer for Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties.

State and local health departments continue to operate at high alert. The state public health lab continues to receive new cultures from health care providers. So far the other cases have tested negative for flu, but Dr. Kohn said it is likely that there will be additional cases in the future.

"We have expected to see a case in Oregon and the public health system is responding well," Dr. Kohn said. "Oregon's state and local public health officials are working together and with federal officials to slow spread of the disease and to continue to protect the public.

"I know Oregonians are concerned and want to know what they can do to protect themselves and their families," said Dr. Kohn. "This doesn't change our advice — wash your hands, cover your cough and if you are sick stay home."

— Staff reports

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