In a media briefing held in Salem and via phone link May 3, state public health director Mel Kohn, M.D. said that the big news was that three confirmed cases of the new strain of Swine Flu or H1N1 were in Oregon. "Two of those cases are in Multnomah and the third was in Polk County connected to the college," he said. An additional 19 probable cases, including one on Wallowa and one in Umatilla, are awaiting confirmation by testing by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The Oregon State Public Health Laboratory in Hillsboro is testing the cases but is required to have the first five cases confirmed by the CDC before they can confirm on their own.

As of Sunday the breakdown of probable cases by county was: Lane, 5; Multnomah, 5; Polk, 5; Umatilla, 1; Wallowa, 1 and Washington, 2.

The laboratory expects to receive the final two confirmations within the next few days. Of the 22 probable confirmed cases seven are children, four are teens and 11 are adults. Ten were males and 12 females. No names of victims are being released. Two have been hospitalized, Kohn said, a young child with other health care concerns and a teen girl who was in intensive care but was said to be doing well. All of the rest of the probably cases are recuperating at home and doing well, he said.

Because children have been infected the issue of school closures will continue to be active, Kohn said. "Local health departments are doing their own investigations and consulting with school districts," he said.

Kohn would make no predictions about how quickly the flu was expected to spread or how serious the infections could be. Currently, however, most people infected are doing well at home.

He did say he expected to see more people infected with flu since this was a new strain. Incubation time from exposure to illness is typically one day, he said, although some onsets may be as much as seven days after exposure.

Oregon has already received its first shipment of antiviral medications and respiratory protection equipment from the Centers for Disease Control's Division of the Strategic National Stockpile to treat and protect citizens during the H1N1 flu outbreak. However, the public is being asked to take ordinary precautions including covering their mouth with something other than their hand if they cough or sneeze, washing hands frequently and quitting smoking.

Frequently updated information on the progression of the flu in Oregon is posted at www.flu.Oregon.gov.

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