Portland hospitals report 7 flu deaths

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon's flu season has arrived early, with scores of patients visiting emergency rooms and at least seven deaths caused by the infectious disease.

Portland-area hospitals reported 179 flu-related hospitalizations from the start of the season through Dec. 28. The hospitals said seven people have died from flu through Monday.

State health officials do not tally adult flu deaths, only those of young people. There has been one of those — a 5-year-old boy who died at Oregon Health & Science University.

The H1N1 virus is the predominant flu strain circulating now. It hits the young and middle-age people particularly hard.

Dr. Ann Thomas of the Oregon Public Health Division says 84 percent of those requiring hospitalization in the Portland area were younger than 65, and that's unusual.

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