Two recent deaths in Umatilla County are thought to be associated with H1N1 influenza, county health officials said today.
The deaths involved a child and middle-aged adult, not related to one another. Both had serious, underlying health issues, according to a prepared statement from Umatilla County Public Health Department.
Details about the cases are not being released to protect family privacy.
Although more than 1,300 deaths associated with swine flu have been reported nationwide, the severity of the virus appears comparable to seasonal flu, which is responsible for about 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Limited quantities of the H1N1 vaccine are available in Umatilla County, with an increase in supply anticipated in late December and again in January. The earliest shipments will be of the nasal spray vaccine, which can be taken by healthy individuals ages 2-49; the H1N1 flu shot will follow in larger quantities, said Genni Lehnert, administrator for Umatilla County Public Health.
Officials are urging residents to be patient and to understand that the H1N1 flu vaccine should first be given to those if the highest risk groups.
Health-care providers interested in providing H1N1 vaccine should contact the department as soon as possible. Seasonal flu vaccine is already available in many locations, and health officials are encouraging individuals, including those over 65, not to delay receiving their annual flu shot.
The symptoms of both seasonal and H1N1 influenza include fever, chills, headache, sore throat, cough, body aches, and may include vomiting or diarrhea. Individuals at higher risk for complications -- such as those with chronic health conditions or who are pregnant -- should contact a health care provider early, in case treatment with antiviral medication is necessary.