First, poor Mexico was hit with the increase in crime warnings. Now it seems that Mexico is the source of the outbreak of swine flu — and cases have been confirmed in other countries. We’ve all been hearing news reports about this possible pandemic, followed comments on Twitter, and listened to the opinions of our neighbors. But, what if you are currently in Mexico or you plan on traveling there in the next few days? I know that if I were in Mexico right now or had a big trip planned and paid for, I would be concerned about where to find the information I need. TravelingMamas.com has gathered information to help you make informed decisions. Here are some excerpts from a recent press statement issued by the Department of Homeland Security regarding the swine flu and travel warnings. You can read the entire release here: Official DHS Press Release Keep reading for resources and tips to stay informed before canceling your travel plans.
Dr. Richard Besser, Acting Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
“It’s important that people understand that there’s a role for everyone to play when there’s an outbreak going on. There are things that individuals do, there’s things that families do, communities do to try and reduce the impact. At the individual level, it’s important people understand how they can prevent respiratory infections. Very frequent hand-washing is something that we talk about time and time again and that is an effective way to reduce transmission of disease. If you’re sick, it’s very important that people stay at home. If your children are sick, have a fever and flu-like illness, they shouldn’t go to school. And if you’re ill, you shouldn’t get on an airplane or another public transport to travel. Those things are part of personal responsibility in trying to reduce the impact.
We issued two days ago an outbreak notice on our web site regarding travel to Mexico. It indicated that if you are traveling to Mexico, that you look at that to see what precautions could you take as an individual to reduce the likelihood that you became ill. We’re going to continue to evaluate the situation in Mexico, and if need be we will increase the warnings based on what the situation warrants.”
Secretary Napolitano, Department of Homeland Security
“…..we have implemented passive surveillance protocols to screen individuals who may arrive at our borders. All persons entering the United States from a location of human infection of swine flu will be processed through all appropriate CBP protocols. Right now those are passive. That means that they’re looking for people who — and asking about, are you sick, have you been sick, and the like; and if so, then they can be referred over for further examination.
Travelers who do present with symptoms, if and when encountered, will be isolated per established rules. They will be provided both with personal protective equipment and we will continue to emphasize universal health measures like hand-washing and gloves. And if and when the situation develops all CBP sites can implement and we can deploy additional personnel to the borders.
In addition, at the TSA, many of the similar measures are being implemented there with respect to the protection of our TSA workers and also their experience with travelers. To date, the State Department has not issued official travel advisories for particularly Mexico, but again, as I said earlier, these situations are very fluid and so you need to keep up to date on that. In addition to the CDC website, the Department of State has a website that will keep travelers posted on what the situation is not only with our neighboring countries, but with countries around the world.”
Before everyone starts to panic and cancel the vacation plans they made for that November dream trip, we need to all take a moment to assess the situation and learn what we can do individually to prevent this disease from spreading.
* If you are planning on travel in the next few days, keep yourself updated on the latest travel advisories regarding swine flu by visiting the CDC’s official page on swine flu updates.
* Watch your local news and keep abreast of happenings that might affect you directly.
* Use basic hygiene practices, such as washing your hands with soap and hot water, using a tissue when you sneeze or cough (and immediately dispose of it), and monitor your health. If you begin to have any flu-like symptoms and you have recently traveled to any of the affected areas in Mexico or the US, you should visit your healthcare provider immediately.
* Be aware that if you are traveling from an affected area and coming through US Customs, you may be subject to a health check. Normal border control is in place, regarding sick travelers, but the precautions may increase as more is discovered about this illness.
Canadian? Check out Health Canada for updates.
Airlines are now waiving change fees for passengers flying through affected areas.
European Union Health Commissioner Andorra Vassiliou urged Europeans to postpone nonessential travel to the United States and Mexico “unless it is very urgent for them.”
When it comes to swine flu and travel, we cannot be too careful. That said, again, the Mamas encourage you not to panic and cancel travel plans that are months away. Simply follow the updates from official organizations linked above. And let’s hope this awful virus can be contained.