Oregonians with flu-like symptoms are being tested for the strain of flu that has sickened 20 Americans and is suspected of killing more than 85 people in Mexico.
PORTLAND — There have been no cases of swine flu reported in Oregon, but public health officials say the state is prepared for its arrival.
Dr. Mel Kohn, the state public health director, said Sunday that Oregonians with flu-like symptoms are being tested for the strain of flu that has sickened 20 Americans and is suspected of killing more than 85 people in Mexico.
The U.S. declared a health emergency so it could ship antiviral drugs and masks to states from a federal stockpile — in case the need arises. "We are expecting them to come to Oregon shortly, but let me also say that we are not expecting to be distributing those things shortly," Kohn said.
Kohn said influenza samples collected this year that state officials couldn't identify were shipped to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for definitive testing and all were negative for swine flu.
"All of us believe that we are not yet at the point where we have a widespread epidemic," Kohn said. "But we are ready to respond if the situation should become more serious."
The swine flu causes the same symptoms as the other strains of flu.
Health officials the are three important ways to make sure the flu doesn't spread. The first is to wash your hands often, the second is to cover your mouth when you cough, preferably with a tissue. And third, go see your doctor if you are sick but try not to expose others.
Though the swine flu has yet to hit the Pacific Northwest, California has had seven confirmed cases.