Oregon Department of Human Services Director's Message
May 1, 2009 DHS Director's messages on the web
To: All DHS employees
From: Bruce Goldberg, M.D., director
Arm yourself with information
"The important thing is not to stop questioning."
~Albert Einstein
On Thursday Oregon was added to the growing list of states with probable cases of the H1N1 flu. Our Public Health Division is on top of the situation, closely and carefully monitoring the rapidly changing circumstances. Health officials are doing all they can to slow the potential spread of the virus. You can help build on their efforts by seeking and passing on accurate information about how to keep yourself, your family -- and in some cases, your clients -- healthy.
Kathleen O'Leary, Washington County Public Health administrator; Mel Kohn, M.D., acting administrator, DHS Public Health Division; and Gary Oxman, M.D., Multnomah County Health Officer at news conference.
Kathleen O'Leary, Washington County Public Health administrator; Mel Kohn, M.D., acting administrator, DHS Public Health Division; and Gary Oxman, M.D., Multnomah County Health Officer at news conference.

A wealth of helpful information is available on our Web site at www.flu.oregon.gov. We are posting H1N1 flu updates, recommendations and resources in real-time and we encourage Oregonians to visit the Web site frequently. Any interested person can subscribe to be notified whenever this Web site is updated. Information is available in both English and Spanish. The statewide hotline number is 1-800-978-3040 and is staffed by public health experts. Local public health authorities are also on the front line to provide information. A list of Oregon public health departments can be found at www.oregon.gov/DHS/ph/lhd/lhd.shtml.

Today, Oregon health officials are closely monitoring five probable cases of H1N1 flu. A Multnomah County woman believed to have contracted the H1N1 virus had been in contact with family members who recently visited Mexico. She was not hospitalized and is recovering. A Western Oregon University (WOU) student who lives off-campus is recovering in the care of family. WOU closed its campus through Monday as a precaution. Final testing in both cases is in progress and results are expected next week. Details for the remaining three probable cases are not yet available and will be shared as local health department investigators learn more.

Karen Bishop, Michael Kuebler, Julie Plagenoff, DHS Public Health Division, at the AOC.
Karen Bishop, Michael Kuebler, Julie Plagenoff, DHS Public Health Division, at the AOC.

The Public Health Division's Agency Operations Center (AOC) will remain active for the duration of the outbreak. The AOC was launched Monday to ensure a swift, coordinated and centralized response to the potential health emergency. The AOC coordinates the state's response to emergencies including managing logistics for distribution of supplies, working with federal and local public health officials, and providing the scientific expertise to give officials and the public the information they need to respond.

AOC staff are in close contact with health providers and partners throughout Oregon, sharing the latest information and providing guidance and resources as needed. The close coordination has helped Oregon be proactive and prepared for the H1N1 flu outbreak. I appreciate the involvement and support of our health partners and providers.

When it comes to protecting yourself and those around you, common sense precautions go a long way in avoiding infection. The H1N1 flu is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people. It is not transmitted from pigs to humans or from eating pork products. A special laboratory test is needed to determine whether a person has H1N1 flu.

To avoid H1N1 flu, use the normal safeguards you would to avoid any respiratory illness:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the garbage after you use it;
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners also are effective;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth to avoid spreading germs;
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people;
  • If you are ill, please stay home to avoid spreading your illness to others.
Vanda Makris preparing
Vanda Makris preparing "master mix" reaction plates at Oregon Public Health Lab Wednesday, April 29.

If anyone in your household or in your care has flu-like symptoms, call your physician's office and follow his or her instructions.

Again, I want to commend the efforts of the Public Health team and ask that you do what you can to help reduce the anxiety of those around you by sharing accurate information. Keep checking our Web site at www.flu.oregon.gov and sharing the detailed information and helpful resources you find there.

DHS on the web