San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

April 29th, 2009
Hays County skirts swine flu scare, for now

A sign on the front door of Texas State’s Student Health Center warns of swine flu. Photo by Sean Wardwell.

STAFF REPORT

While worries about swine flu creep through governments northward towards Hays County, local jurisdictions and organizations haven’t yet announced major postponements or cancellations.

Various advisories from Hays County, the City of San Marcos, Texas State University and the San Marcos CISD continue to focus on “common sense” precautions for citizens against the swine flu virus, which has been confirmed in 100 cases throughout the United States as of late Wednesday.

In Texas, 16 cases were confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), up from two such cases as of Monday. Texas also had the first confirmed swine flu death, a 23-month old boy from Mexico who died of the disease in a Houston hospital late Tuesday.

Two cases were reported early this week in Guadalupe County, where Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City schools are closed this week. All outside group events have been canceled in that area. Church services and ministerial groups were advised to reduce/eliminate close contact and sharing communion rites.

After the Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD closed its schools, the Comal ISD and the New Braunfels ISD announced Tuesday night that they will close all of their schools until May 11. The two school districts border the San Marcos CISD on the south.

The Hays County Personal Health Department said it is gearing up to support local medical offices in the event that swine flu cases are reported in Hays County.

“We’re following our established guidelines for dealing with a potential flu epidemic and working closely with the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) in Austin to ensure proper coordination in receiving supplies and transmission of statistics to DSHS,” said Priscilla Hargraves, director of the Personal Health Department. “Our department acts as a depot for flu testing kits and flu treatments such as the currently recommended Oseltamivir (brand name Tamiflu®) and Zanamivir (brand name Relenza®) that can help mitigate flu symptoms once diagnosed. We then distribute them as needed to medical offices – private offices, hospitals, schools and clinics. We will also be supplying a new DSHS statistical form for those offices to use so that health authorities have an accurate demographic picture of flu cases in Hays County.”

Symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of seasonal flu. The symptoms may include fevers exceeding 100 degrees, body aches, runny nose, cough, sore throat, headache, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. The flu spreads person to person through coughing, touching or sneezing.

Texas Governor Rick Perry issued a disaster declaration for the entire state Wednesday.The disaster declaration allows the state to implement emergency protective measures and seek reimbursement under the federal Stafford Act for protective measures associated with the state’s response to this public health threat.

The University Interscholastic League (UIL), which sanctions high school competitions throughout Texas, has suspended all competition until May 11.

“The health and safety of our student activity participants is of the utmost importance,” said UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt. “Taking every possible precaution to prevent the further spreading of this disease is an important contribution to the welfare of our great state, and altering the schedule of our events is a way to keep our participants safe.”

Among the general precautions to prevent the spread of the disease, as put out by Texas State and generally repeated by other jurisdictions, are:

•       Cover your mouth and nose with tissue or your arm sleeve when coughing or sneezing. Do not reuse tissue.
•       Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially before touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
•       Avoid others with respiratory illnesses
•       If you are sick, stay home to avoid spreading illness to others.

Central Texas Medical Center (CTMC) issued a statement saying, “There is cause for concern, not alarm.” CTMC cited the CDC with its advise that people thinking they have the flu should not report to their doctors’ offices. Instead, they should  stay home, drink plenty of fluids and nurse themselves back to good health over the course of several days.

If one’s symptoms worsen and one is experiencing respiratory distress or other life-threatening conditions, CTMC said a trip the ER is appropriate. Additionally, people should not go to work or send their children to school if they suspect the flu. Avoiding large crowds and frequent hand washing remain the best, universal defense.

“As of mid-afternoon Tuesday, the CTMC Lab had flu tested 42 patients; all have tested negative,” CTMC spokesman Clay DeStefano said. “We continue to monitor the situation and are participating in regional updates from the Capital Area Trauma Regional Advisory Council.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a Phase 5 outbreak Wednesday, the second-highest on its threat scale, indicating a pandemic could be imminent. The swine flu has sickened 2,498 people in Mexico, killing 160. The flu has struck in nine countries, including the United States and Mexico.

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0 thoughts on “Hays County skirts swine flu scare, for now

  1. 2 of my cousins in mexico got infected with the swine flu virus. thank God, they recovered well. it is a great news that the pandemic on swine flu is gone now.

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