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Here’s what first look at symptoms of some Oregon coronavirus cases tells us: Loss of smell, taste common

Interviews with 75 Multnomah County residents who tested positive found a wider range of coronavirus symptoms.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Data released Monday by the Multnomah County Health Department offers the fullest picture yet of the types of symptoms affecting Oregonians who’ve tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Among the notable symptoms: The loss of smell and taste.

While the federal Centers for Disease Control lists three primary symptoms -- fever, cough and shortness of breath -- interviews with 75 Multnomah County residents who tested positive found a wider range of symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, runny nose and a loss of the sense of smell and taste.

Almost 90% of the people interviewed had a cough, the data show. The other most common symptoms included chills, fatigue and muscle pain.

Nearly half of those surveyed reported experiencing anosmia, a loss of the sense of smell, or ageusia, the loss of taste. Doctors around the world have noted that COVID-19 patients often reported anosmia. The American Academy of Otolaryngology has proposed adding it to the list of screening tools doctors use.

In a bulletin circulated in the United Kingdom, the president of the British Rhinological Society noted that two of every three confirmed novel coronavirus cases in Germany had anosmia and 30% of patients tested in South Korea had anosmia as their most notable symptom in mild cases. South Korea has tested a far greater portion of its population than the United States, where testing has lagged.

Just more than 100 people in Multnomah County, Oregon’s most populous county, have tested positive, trailing neighboring Washington County and Marion County. Through Monday, 2,922 Multnomah residents had been tested.

The Multnomah County Health Department is now reporting case counts in Washington, Yamhill, Clackamas and Multnomah counties. It’s less granular than King County, Washington, which has mapped its positive test results by zip code. But Multnomah County’s interactive dashboard offers other useful details in a state that has struggled with basic transparency in the face of the coronavirus crisis.

Of the 101 Multnomah County residents who have tested positive, two have died. In total, 606 Oregonians have tested positive and 16 have died.

Multnomah County’s interactive data dashboard can be found here.

— Rob Davis

rdavis@oregonian.com 503.294.7657; @robwdavis

This article was originally published by The Oregonian/Oregonlive, one of more than a dozen news organizations throughout the state sharing their coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak to help inform Oregonians about this evolving health issue.

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