PORTLAND -- Local emergency rooms are quickly filling up with flu victims and doctors said they are seeing a rise in H1N1, also known as swine flu, which caused a pandemic back in 2009.
A 5-year-old boy from Eugene died from the flu at Oregon Health & Science University after falling ill on Christmas day, according to officials from the hospital. The boy died after contracting H1N1, KTVZ reports.
A neighbor saw emergency crews at the boy’s home on Christmas day and news of the child's death came as a shock.
“It's just sad, very devastating. I couldn't imagine what they might be going through,” said Tim Yali.
So far, at least seven people have died of the flu in Washington, Clackamas and Multnomah counties and nearly 180 people have been hospitalized, as first reported by the Oregonian.
State officials now consider flu activity widespread in Oregon. This year, H1N1 is the most common strain of the flu.
Dr. Mo Daya works at OHSU. He said he expected to see more cases of the flu.
“It can become bad, very quickly,” Daya said. “In the time I’ve worked in the last two weeks, every shift has had at least one or two positive cases. At least one or two each shift have been admitted to the ICU.”
Daya said there is a vaccine for the swine flu that’s not perfect but can help.
More: Ore. Flu Prevention
“The vaccine is the best preventative thing we have today. I encourage everyone who hasn’t had the vaccine to get out and get the vaccine to try to protect this from occurring,” he said.
Across the country, the flu has been confirmed in every state and 25 states are reporting widespread flu activity, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
KGW reporter Art Edwards contributed to this report.