Oregon cites its first 'presumptive' coronavirus case, one of unknown origin

by Reuters
Saturday, 29 February 2020 05:13 GMT

(Recasting with details from health authority; background)

By Steve Gorman

Feb 28 (Reuters) - The Oregon Health Authority on Friday announced the state's first "presumptive" case of coronavirus, in an adult who has not traveled to a country where the virus is circulating or had close contact with another person known to be infected.

The agency said it was still waiting for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to confirm positive test results of a sample taken from the individual, a resident of Washington County, near Portland, who began exhibiting symptoms on Feb. 19.

If confirmed, the case would mark the third diagnosis of a person in the United States to have contracted the virus through community transmission, meaning the virus is now spreading within at least three separate locations on the U.S. West Coast.

The first two cases have been identified in California - one in Santa Clara County, home to the Silicon Valley high-tech hub, and another in Solano County, about 90 miles (145 km) to the north. Washington County, Oregon, is about 600 miles farther north.

"Our first concern is for this individual, to make sure they're being cared for and is able to recover," the health authority's director, Patrick Allen, said in a statement.

Oregon officials are moving to trace any contacts the patient had with others to alert them to a possible exposure and how they can obtain medical treatment if needed.

The infected individual "spent time" in a school in the Lake Oswego school district and may have exposed students and staff at the school, the state agency said.

The Portland-based Oregonian newspaper reported the person is an employee at Forest Hills Elementary School, which is now being closed by the district through March 4 as a precaution.

The presumptive diagnosis was based on results obtained by the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory from a CDC-supplied test kit newly furnished to the state, the agency said.

The case arose in a person who was not previously under monitoring for possible exposure to coronavirus.

"Public health officials are considering it a likely community-transmitted case, meaning that the origin of the infection is unknown," the authority said in a statement.

As of Friday, the CDC was reporting on its website 62 cases of coronavirus confirmed in the United States. The bulk of those, 47 cases, are among individuals recently repatriated to the United States, either from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined in Japan or from Wuhan, China, aboard State Department-chartered airlifts.

That leaves 15 cases in six states the CDC counts as having been detected and tested in the United States through the U.S. public health system since Jan. 21. The majority are in California. (Writing and reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Aishwarya Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.