Oregon's number of confirmed swine flu cases rose to 45 Wednesday, but the virus has yet to be found in Jackson or Josephine counties.
Public health officials said the rapid uptick in cases, from 21 on Tuesday, occurred because Oregon now has the equipment to test for the H1N1 virus. Samples formerly had to be sent to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
All 15 samples from Southern Oregon that were sent for testing have come back negative, said Chad Petersen, public information officer for Jackson County's Department of Health and Human Services.
Nationwide, 642 cases and two deaths (both in Texas) have been confirmed in 41 states, according to data compiled by the CDC. Illinois had the most cases, with 122, followed by New York with 97, and California with 67.
CDC officials said they expected the virus to continue to spread, with more hospitalizations and more deaths.
The H1N1 virus is still behaving like a seasonal influenza, and health officials asked people with flu-like symptoms (such as fever, muscular aches, headache, cough, exhaustion) to stay home until they are well. Influenza viruses can be contagious for about a week after symptoms first develop.
Oregon's cases have surfaced in seven counties, including one in Clackamas, eight in Lane, four in Marion, 11 in Multnomah, 16 in Polk, two in Umatilla and three in Washington.
In a media release, Dr. Mel Kohn said epidemiologists are investigating the cluster of cases in Polk County, but he noted that in flu outbreaks it's not unusual to see more cases in some areas than in others.
Of the Oregon cases, 20 are children, nine are teens, and 16 are adults. Twenty-one are males, and 24 are females. Only one, a teenage girl, is in the hospital.
Statewide, of all the swabs tested for the virus, 38 percent were the H1N1 virus, and 62 percent were already-known seasonal influenza.
Petersen said the county has received its share of antiviral drugs from the state stockpile, and "we're sitting on it and figuring out a plan for how we'd distribute it if we had to."
As public health officials relax their response to the virus, local emergency teams are being deactivated. Jackson County's emergency operations center closed Tuesday, and the county Health and Human Services Department's operations center shut down at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
"We're kind of in a stand-down mode," Petersen said.
Reach reporter Bill Kettler at 776-4492 or e-mail email@example.com.