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Oregon reports first swine flu death

The Associated Press

SALEM — Oregon has recorded its first death from swine flu, a Marion County woman who had multiple underlying health conditions, state officials said Monday.

The unidentified woman died Sunday after being hospitalized for eight days, the state Department of Human Services said.

The woman's other health conditions had "placed her at high risk for infection and complications," the agency said.

Nationwide, 28 people have died from swine flu, officials said.

In Oregon, they said, the number of reported cases is declining.

The state's most recent count shows that since the beginning of the outbreak 168 cases of swine flu had been confirmed in 13 counties — Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Jackson, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Umatilla, Washington and Yamhill.

Marion County health officials have investigated the case to identify who has been exposed to this case, and to slow further transmission.

Even with the woman's death on Sunday, there is no indication that swine flu is more dangerous than other strains of flu, state officials said. Strains of seasonal flu affect an estimated one in 10 Oregonians each year, and account for about 400 Oregon deaths and 36,000 deaths nationwide.

In Oregon, the largest numbers of reported swine flu cases were in Multnomah and Polk counties, with 50 and 41 cases, respectively. Around the state, swine flu infected people ranging in age from infants to 78 years, with the average age of 16.

"While flu activity overall continues to decrease in Oregon, we're still seeing cases of (swine flu) circulating in our community," said Dr. Mel Kohn, the state's public health officer.

Public health officials urged people to wash hands frequently and take other basic precautions to prevent the spread of flu.

People in high-risk groups — infants, pregnant women and people older than 65 — should be seen by a doctor if they experience flu symptoms, Kohn said.