Text by Keith Rutowski, updated 05/06/2009

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still recommending that travelers avoid nonessential trips to Mexico, the supposed epicenter of the current swine influenza outbreak. Swine flu, or H1N1, is a respiratory disease in pigs caused by type A influenza, which is regularly spread among pigs, and, less commonly, between humans. However, according to the World Health Organization, the current outbreak of the disease is responsible for 1,516 confirmed infections worldwide and 17 deaths, including a toddler boy and a 33-year-old woman in the U.S.

Decidedly less severe cases of infection are continuing to show up outside of Mexico—including in Canada, Spain, and the United Kingdom—and many countries are taking action to prevent the spread of the virus. The U.S. has stepped up its border patrol. Southeast Asia is utilizing thermal scanners to check for fever at airports. Russia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan all said they would quarantine travelers displaying symptoms of the virus.

Media accounts vary on the overall severity of the current outbreak, so let’s review some of the basic facts about the virus and what travelers can do should they need to travel to an affected area. The disease is transmitted by exposure to infected animals and through human-to-human contact such as sneezing and coughing (not by consuming properly cooked pork, according to the CDC). Therefore, experts advise individuals to obey strict rules of hygiene and to seek immediate medical attention if one should exhibit flu-like symptoms (i.e. fever, lethargy, lack of appetite). And while there is no vaccine to prevent swine flu, the CDC recommends that individuals needing to travel to Mexico bring along oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza)—the same drugs used to combat the regular flu.

Speaking of the regular flu, you may be wondering how swine flu stacks up against it? In terms of sheer numbers, swine flu still seems to be considerably less critical. CNN has recently pointed out the fact that while swine flu shouldn’t be taken lightly, seasonal influenza kills 36,000 people in the U.S. each year. Since January, there have already been 13,000 deaths due to regular flu complications. However, the vague nature of this flu strand makes it imperative that individuals who must travel to Mexico continue to update themselves as the situation develops and that they exercise caution when abroad and once they return home.

Related Links:

http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/

http://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/updates/en/index.html

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090427/ap_on_he_me/med_swine_flu
http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/04/28/regular.flu/index.html

Comments

  1. Jeremy Joslin, MD
    May 7, 2009, 11:55 pm

    Just a reminder to readers that both medications you mention require a prescription in the United States. Also, supply of these medications is currently limited so be sure to plan well in advance to improve your chances of obtaining either at your local pharmacy.

  2. Generic Viagra
    November 12, 2009, 11:36 am

    Hi great article I really enjoy reading this blog,thanks, good topic Typically, influenza is transmitted through the air by coughs or sneezes, creating aerosols containing the virus. Influenza can also be transmitted by direct contact with bird droppings or nasal secretions, or through contact with contaminated surfaces. Airborne aerosols have been thought to cause most infections, although which means of transmission is most important is not absolutely clear. Influenza viruses can be inactivated by sunlight, disinfectants and detergents. As the virus can be inactivated by soap, frequent hand washing reduces the risk of infection.

  3. Viagra Online
    November 26, 2009, 3:25 pm

    Hello people want to express my satisfaction with this blog very creative and I really like the views of the focus very good indeed Thank you for the helpful information about Swine Flu Update: U.S. Reports Second Death, Tips for Travelers . I hope you keep up the good work on making your blog a success!

  4. Viagra Kaufen
    January 29, 2010, 3:04 am

    Your blog is very interesting and I like to read it!

  5. Payday Loans
    February 22, 2010, 4:53 am

    Hi, great post. thank you!Fast loan up to $ 1500.

  6. Generic Viagra
    February 22, 2010, 4:53 am

    You have a very good blog that the main thing a lot of interesting and useful!