Adventure in 60 Seconds: Swine Flu—What Travelers Need to Know
Read the updated version of this story >>
Update: The U.S. has now reported its first death due to swine flu. A 23-month-old child in Texas has died from the virus. Read the Reuters article >>
Text by Keith Rutowski
You'd just booked a steal of a trip to Cabo for some much-needed R+R—before the swine flu hysteria hit the news last weekend. Should you cancel your trip?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently recommending that travelers avoid nonessential trips to Mexico, the epicenter of the current swine influenza outbreak. Swine flu is a respiratory disease in pigs caused by type A influenza, which is regularly spread among pigs, and, less commonly, between humans. However, the current outbreak of the disease is thought to be responsible for as many as 2,000 infections and 140 deaths in Mexico alone.
Decidedly less severe cases of infection are continuing to show up across the globe—including in Spain, Scotland and Canada—and much of Southeast Asia is utilizing thermal scanners to check for fever at airports. And while the U.S. steps up its own border patrol, Russia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan all said they would quarantine travelers displaying symptoms of the virus.
Humans cannot contract swine influenza by consuming properly cooked pork; rather, the disease is transmitted by exposure to infected animals and through human-to-human contact such as sneezing and coughing. Therefore, experts advise individuals who need to travel to Mexico to obey strict rules of hygiene and to seek immediate medical attention if one should display flu-like symptoms (i.e. fever, lethargy, lack of appetite). While there is no vaccine to prevent swine flu, experts recommend that individuals needing to travel to Mexico bring along oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) to combat the virus.
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