Monday, April 27, 2009

Mexico, the Swine Flu and Travel

Mexico, the Swine Flu and Travel

The Swine Flu was a hot topic at work today with my co-workers and my patients. As I nurse I am doing double duty addressing the medical issues and the Travel side of this public health issue with friends and family.
There has been 103 confirmed deaths in Mexico as of this writing . There are 44 confirmed cases in the US, which are milder than the strain found in Mexico. 28 of them are in New York isolated to a school in Queens, NY. World Health Organization elevated the Pandemic alert to Phase 4 out of 6.
So of course everytime someone sneezed in our facility they came over to “Nurses’ Row” My office is in the Bronx which is just over the bridge from Queens. Ah.... Let the fun begin! .

Its important to note that this Swine flu operates as any other flu and the same precautions should be taken to prevent its spread. I have heard and read some interesting concepts about the flu. Like it came from eating Pork, or from people having un-natural relations with Pigs, which is also a myth.
So lets begin with:

What is the Swine Flu?
It is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by an influenza (flu) virus. Mopst people do not realize that animals get illnesses that are also common to humans, like diabetes, heart disease, cancer and Yes the flu. Human cases of Swine flu occur around people who are around pigs. It can also pass from person to person. This strain of Swine flu also has bird flu and human flu genes.

How do you catch swine flu and is it Contagious?

Swine flu is spread by contact with infected pigs or their surrounding area that has been contaminated with Swine flu viruses.. Also spread by contact with a person who has been infected with the Swine flu. It is considered contagious which simply means it can be spread from person to person.

How Can We Prevent spreading the Swine Flu

* Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
* Cough or sneeze in the bend of your el bow if you do not have a tissue available
* Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners , like Purel are also effective.
* Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
* stay home from work or school if you become ill with the Swine Flu. Pleeeeeese!!!!
* limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
*Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. That is how Germs are spread.
What should I do if I get sick?
If you are sick, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness to others. Contact your doctor . You may be prescribed an anti-viral medication such as Tamiflu or Relenza which can lessen the severity of the flu.

I planned a Trip to Mexico, Should I cancel it?

Many people are asking if they should change their travel plans.
The US is planning on issuing a Travel Alert for non-essential travel to Mexico.

This is the perfect scenario to emphasize the importance of purchasing Travel Insurance. This is the type of situation that it is very useful in.

So far No cruises to Mexico have been canceled.

For example, Carnival Cruise line offered this on their site:

“Fortunately, there currently is no evidence of a swine flu pandemic and there have been no reports of guests exhibiting symptoms of swine flu on Carnival’s ships.
Carnival enforces the highest of standards for cleaning and sanitation on all of our ships to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We are monitoring the situation in Mexico and maintain regular contact with the Centers for Disease Control. We do not anticipate that our guests' cruise experience will be impacted by this type of illness and will not be making any adjustments to our itineraries.”

No Airline flights have been canceled. Some airlines are offering passengers to change their travel plans without penalty. Other airlines are offering to reschedule flights and/or travel plans at no extra charge. This may change day to day. Check with your airlines for their policy, or the travel agent you booked with.
Information is changing and evolving daily Check at the CDC.Gov site for the most up to date information on Travel to Mexico and the effect that the Swine Flu may have on it.

In the meantime, lets pray for Mexico. Its been a difficult year for our neighbors to the South.

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