The new H1N1 flu -- the swine flu -- is a disease to be taken seriously, but not one that ought to cause panic.
That was the key message from Mark Rogers, RN, Director of Care Management at Hill Country Memorial Hospital System in Fredericksburg.
"Most people who catch the new flu will simply have a case of flu," Rogers told the meeting at Community Church of the Hills in Johnson City. "But the disease deserves our respect because, in a small percentage of cases, it can become very serious, and even kill."
Rogers said the hazards of the swine flu came home to him a couple of weeks ago when his own teenaged son came down with it.
"He was pretty uncomfortable for a few days," Rogers recalled, "but I treated his symptoms at home without going to the doctor, and he recovered on schedule.
"The problem arose about a week later, when he began running a fever again. That can be a sign of a bacterial infection, so we went to the doctor then, and sure enough, he had sinusitis."
Rogers was the speaker at a session on preventing and treating the flu, sponsored by the Blanco County Disaster Response Group and the coalition of churches, social services agencies, and government offices preparing a support network for county residents.
As the number of flu cases builds, doctors and hospitals become increasingly crowded, so most flu cases -- regular or swine -- will be treated at home with little outside medical support. That means caregivers will need to be alert to signs that the normally moderate disease is turning into something worse.
"If you do see one of the danger signs, don't wait," Rogers emphasized. "Get medical assistance quickly before it becomes life-threatening."
For a list of flu danger signs, go to http://home.ktc.com/kdumc/DisasterPlan/medicalhelp.htm.
Additional information on the flu, its prevention and its treatment is on an information website maintained by the Kerrville District of the United Methodist Church, at http://home.ktc.com/kdumc/DisasterPlan/flunew.htm.