Thursday, April 30, 2009


The following press release was issued by DHS: 

Oregon’s first probable case of swine flu was identified late Wednesday following testing by the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory. The Oregon Public Health Department will hold a news briefing at the Portland State Office Building at 11:30 this morning.

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.”

He said these are actions people can take to prevent the spread of the flu:
· Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners also are effective.
· Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your sleeve, not with your hand;
· Stay home if you are sick;
· Try to avoid contact with people who are ill; and
· Practice other good health habits such as eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, getting sufficient rest and not smoking.

The Oregon Public Health website is updated regularly to provide information such as how to identify swine flu, prevent its spread as well as materials that employers, medical providers, schools, parents and others may use.

Swine flu is a respiratory disease in pigs whose spread to human has been historically rare in the U.S. Its symptoms are similar to those in normal seasonal influenza such as fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing, sometimes accompanied by runny nose, sore threat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Eating pork that has been properly handled and cooked will not transmit the virus.


This week there wasn't an a column in the Statesman Journal. Since I have been doing them for a while in the paper and we've only just started this blog, on weeks that we have missed I will go back and repost old columns. This week we will go back to April 15th, a week that was missed on the blog because of all the exercises going on!

Federal money offers states help after disasters
Since '95, Oregon has received $108 million.

Oregon has survived 12 disasters in the past 14 years, all receiving federal declarations for the Public Assistance Grant Program. 

Many people remember the massive floods of February 1996. Only nine Oregon counties escaped damage that year.  In December 2007, floods and high winds affected the northwest corner of the state, and snow and flooding in 2008.

All 12 Oregon disasters since 1995 resulted in a federal declaration of what is called public assistance, which means money to cities, counties, the state and nonprofit agencies that perform essential functions. Public assistance is financed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and managed by Oregon Emergency Management.

FEMA public assistance dollars can be used to reimburse a portion of eligible costs to clear debris, respond to disaster emergencies, and repair or rebuild basic structures - the things that allow communities to function.

Oregon's disasters are usually the result of severe storms: flooding, landslides, and mudslides. Roads or bridges wash out; schools and government buildings are damaged or destroyed; electrical and telephone lines come down; water or wastewater treatment facilities are compromised; recreation facilities, parks and beaches all suffer damage.

Since 1995, Oregon has received nearly $108 million in FEMA public assistance funds. Payments for the 1996 floods alone came to nearly $51 million.

FEMA and the state also look for ways to keep disasters from recurring. This is called mitigation. FEMA provides mitigation grants which are administered by Oregon Emergency Management. From December 1995 to the present, FEMA has provided $16.2 million in mitigation grant funds.

Disasters can be devastation: they can also restore. Rebuilding brings jobs, new and improved infrastructure, a fresh outlook and community pride. FEMA is currently in the state providing assistance for our December snow storm.

Jennifer Bailey, formerly of FEMA, is the public-affairs coordinator of Oregon Emergency Management. She may be reached at (503) 378-2911, Ext. 22294.