The swine flu outbreak hasn’t reached Oregon or Washington, but state officials decided Sunday that the threat is serious enough to request immediate shipments of antiviral drugs and protective masks from the federal emergency stockpile. Because much remains unknown about the new influenza strain, health officials are moving quickly to be prepared for a potential escalation in severity.
“All of us believe that we are not yet at the point where we have a widespread epidemic,” said Dr. Mel Kohn, Oregon’s acting director of public health. “But we are ready to respond if the situation should become more serious.”
From the federal stockpile, Oregon officials are receiving 107,000 courses of the antiflu drug oseltamivir (trade name: Tamiflu) and 30,000 courses of the drug zanamivir (Relenza), said Dr. Gary Oxman, health officer for Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties. The state is also receiving 316,000 highly protective respirator masks to have on hand for rapid distribution if the need arises. Continued: