Central Texas Medical Center (CTMC) said Thursday that it continues to monitor, assess and adjust to the evolving needs of the suspected swine flu outbreak.
The hospital, the only one serving Hays County, reports that there has been a steady increase in patients presenting to its 24/7 Emergency Department complaining of flu-like symptoms since Monday. To date, no patients have tested positive for the flu.
The hospital said the Central Texas area remains in high allergy season and respiratory problems are common for many at this time of year.
“The true flu indicator is fever,” says Clay DeStefano, CTMC’s administrative director of public relations and marketing. “If folks are not experiencing ongoing fever, upper-respiratory distress, body aches, nausea or other symptoms commonly seen with the flu, there is no need to come to the ED.”
Although Comal County just south of Hays County is all but shut down for the next couple weeks because of swine flu, Hays County continues to operate as usual. Texas State and all Hays County school districts remain open, though with precautions.
“We are closely monitoring all students and are taking great steps to keep our campuses and buses disinfected daily,” said Hays CISD public information officer Julie Jerome. “We are in continued contact with county health and emergency operations officials.”
Two cases of swine flu have been confirmed in Comal County. Officials in Comal County announced 100 cases of Type A influenza, of which swine flu is one strain. Those cases have been sent to laboratories for testing to see if any are swine flu.
CTMC said it supports the position of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), adding that there is cause for concern, but not alarm. The CDC advises that people should not report to their doctor’s offices if they think they have the flu. Instead, those people are advised to to stay home, drink plenty of fluids and nurse themselves back to good health over several days. If one’s symptoms worsen and one is experiencing respiratory distress or other life-threatening conditions, then a trip to the emergency room is appropriate, CTMC said.
Additionally, people should not go to work or send their children to school if they suspect the flu. If any individual in the house appears to have the flu, the best preventive measure is for all within the household to stay home. Avoiding large crowds and practicing frequent hand washing remain the best, universal defenses.
“We continue to monitor the situation via twice-daily briefings including our clinical and administrative staff and the Austin-based Capital Area Trauma Regional Advisory Council,” DeStefano said.
In the meantime, the hospital has put essential staff on notice that, if and when a true disaster is called, they will be moved to “active” status. Additional supplies, including gloves, masks, lab test-kits and appropriate pharmaceuticals have been ordered. The hospital is also using its internal website to aid staff challenged by area school and daycare center closings in networking with their co-workers to work out solutions.
Information and tips about the Swine Flu can be found at www.ctmc.org at the this direct link. Additional information can also be found at www.cdc.gov/swineflu/.