OHA sees flu cases dip in Oregon after spike


The Oregon Health Authority said it's not too late to get a flu shot

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Flu season is continuing to spread throughout the state. According to the Center for Disease Control, while Oregon is experiencing a high number of cases this year, things are beginning to turn around.

The good news: on Friday the Oregon Health Authority released numbers that show the confirmed cases of the flu are the lowest numbers we have seen in weeks. While it is too early to tell if this trend will continue, doctors are cautiously optimistic that they aren’t seeing a growing spike in the flu around the tri-county area.

“No one else has seen a year like this one,” said OHA Public Health Physician Dr. Ann Thomas. “And it is the same thing happening across the country.”

Dr. Ann Thomas, Oregon Health Authority Public Health Physician. January 24, 2020 (KOIN)

This flu season has been very different than the previous years’ because many people have been coming down with Type B influenza, which is not as common.

“Many of us older folks have experienced this Type B at some point in our life because we have had several years to be exposed because it is not as common,” said Thomas. “Whereas for younger people, this is the first time they have been exposed.”

According to the CDC, 54 children have died nationwide after coming down with the flu this season. In Eugene, 7-year-old Parker Ashford died last week after experiencing flu-like symptoms.

“Just sent home with the diagnosis of the flu,” said Parker’s dad, Jeff Ashford. “We were doing everything we were suggested to do. We were home with him 24/7 from the time he came home from school. He did go to the doctor 12 hours before he passed.”

The Lane County Health Department declared an outbreak at Prker’s elementary school this week after 60 kids stayed home from school sick. There is not an official number on how many of those absent children were sick with the flu, however, five of the school’s students have tested positive.

“Nobody should have to go through this,” said Ashford.

In the tri-county area, around 40 people with the flu were recently hospitalized. However, Thomas said those numbers are decreasing.

“In our peak week, we had about 90 hospitalizations,” said Thomas. “In some years, we have had 200 hospitalizations a week, for a couple weeks in a row.”

OHA said it is still not too late for residents to get a flu shot this season. They also stressed the importance of hand washing and urge anyone who is sick to say home.

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