Lane County Public Health says a patient has been diagnosed with the H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu. The department says it’s still investigating how the case got here and whether or not anyone else has it. It says the patient wasn’t a frequent traveler and he likely caught it in the area.
Health officials say there is cause for concern, but people shouldn’t panic. They encourage people to use this news to their advantage. They say the first tool against fighting anything is awareness.
“The person isn’t severely ill, which is heartening, so I would simply say that it’s time to start thinking about safety for respiratory conditions for everybody in the community,” said Dr. Patrick Luedtke, Lane County Public Health Officer.
“If 94 to 96 percent of our population is immunized, we prevent outbreaks. It’s a concept caused herd community or community immunity. And that’s what we’re aiming for, and we’re not even close to that right now,” said Jason Davis, Lane County Public Health Spokesman.
The Lane County Public Health Department says Oregon has the lowest vaccination rate in the country, and Lane County isn’t the worst of the worst, but it’s pretty close.
“The reasons that we have such a terrible vaccination rate is people don’t realize that we still have those diseases out there,” Luedtke said.
And though there may not be a ton of cases, it’s enough to be concerned and why they’re pushing even harder this week for folks to get educated and vaccinated.
Five-hundred free flu vaccinations will be given out at the clinic on Wednesday at Lane Community College’s downtown campus from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
A town hall meeting discussing communicable diseases like the flu will be held later that day on the University of Oregon campus from 6-7 p.m.