Oregon's flu season has arrived early, with scores of patients visiting emergency rooms and at least seven deaths caused by the infectious disease.
According to Lane County Health and Human Services Spokesman Jason Davis, about 150 flu cases have been confirmed in Lane County over the past month. And the actual number is likely much higher.
Davis: “Most of the time when someone goes to their doctor with flu – if they’re demonstrating classic symptoms – they’re told to go home, get rest, drink plenty of fluids, stay home from work, etc… A test isn’t administered. We call that an ‘influenza-like illness.’ So it’s not necessarily a confirmed influenza.”
Portland-area hospitals reported 179 flu-related hospitalizations through December 28th. The hospitals said seven people have died from flu through Monday. State health officials do not tally adult flu deaths.
Davis says the H1N1 virus – commonly called “swine flu” - is the predominant strain circulating now.
Davis: “Pretty much all the cases that have tested positive for influenza have been H1N1. The good news about that though, is that this year’s vaccine does include H1N1 as part of the strains that are protected against.”
Davis says it’s still not too late to get a flu shot.