TTT: Swine flu

April 28, 2009 at 1:14 pm 4 comments

As someone who’s supposed to be heading to Mexico within the next couple of weeks, this swine flu thing is at the forefront of my mind right now.  I’ve been reading a lot about it, so I’ll share with you what I’ve found so far in the hopes that this might be useful to someone.

About swine flu: “Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza virus that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza in pigs. Swine flu viruses cause high levels of illness and low death rates in pigs. Swine influenza viruses may circulate among swine throughout the year, but most outbreaks occur during the late fall and winter months similar to outbreaks in humans. The classical swine flu virus (an influenza type A H1N1 virus) was first isolated from a pig in 1930.”  –CDC

How it’s spread: It’s NOT spread by eating pork, so please proceed to enjoy your bacon.  “Human-to-human transmission of swine flu can also occur. This is thought to occur in the same way as seasonal flu occurs in people, which is mainly person-to-person transmission through coughing or sneezing of people infected with the influenza virus. People may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.” –CDC

Prevention: “At this time, CDC recommends the use of oseltamivir or zanamivir for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with swine influenza viruses.” –CDC  Also, it’s important to wash your hands often (using soap and hot water for 15-20 seconds), use hand sanitizer when you can’t wash your hands, covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, put used tissues in waste baskets, and cough or sneeze into upper sleeves (not one’s hands) if tissues are not available.

Travel notices: The CDC just yesterday changed from no warning to recommending “that U.S. travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Mexico. ” –CDC  Click that link for loads of info about what to do to prepare if you’re heading to Mexico.  Two important tips jump out at me:

  • “Monitor announcements from Mexico’s Ministry of Health and local government including information about affected areas, as not all areas are equally affected.”  There are maps at Google and CNN tracking reported cases.  You’ll notice that there are no reported cases on the Yucatan Peninsula – one of the most popular places for tourists to visit.  Royal Caribbean, at least, is presently continuing with their scheduled visits to Mexico as there are no reports of the flu in the ports upon which their ships call.   Also, a lot of the reports of cases of the flu are just regular flu and not swine flu.  For example, in Quintana Roo (state of Cancun and Playa del Carmen), the governor says 22 people have been reported with flu symptoms.  Of the 15 tested, all have just had the regular flu.  (TripAdvisor; see also A Canuck in Cancun.)
  • “Be aware that Mexico is checking all exiting airline passengers for signs of swine flu.  Exit screening may cause significant delays at airports.”

Changing your plans: A number of airlines (Continental, Delta, United, US Airways, American Airlines and Mexicana Airlines) are offering travelers with tickets to Mexico the chance to change their tickets without paying the change fee.

Keeping it in perspective: The CDC reports that “about 36,000 people die from flu-related symptoms each year in the United States ….”  As President Obama said yesterday, the outbreak is certainly a “cause for concern and requires a heightened state of alert” but is not a “cause for alarm.”  (CNN)

On the other hand: This is not like regular flu.  It’s a totally new strain, so people don’t have any immunity built up to any part of it.  In this case, it’s more dangerous to the healthiest part of the population.  A “person’s immune system overreacts to the totally new flu virus and actually attacks the body’s healthy organs and systems – that makes the healthy approximately 15 to 60 year old individual the most likely to actually succumb to the flu.” –NewsBlaze

And another dose of stop-panicking: Let the public health experts freak out about swine flu – they’re the ones who have to prepare for the worst.  The rest of us should relax, especially in this day and age.  Read this article from MSN.

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Entry filed under: News, Travel Tips.

Triangle’s first Anthropologie now open! Changing plans at the last minute

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Michelle  |  April 28, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Notice that Google map by Niman is misleading. The dots on the NC map are where the *possibility* of infection is only logically suspected in people who’ve traveled to Mexico etc. No confirmed cases in NC yet! I wish Niman would be more selective of what to mark on his map.

    Reply
  • 2. TTT: Swine flu | Swine Flu Outbreak  |  April 28, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    […] Read more here:  TTT: Swine flu […]

    Reply
  • 3. Rebekah  |  April 28, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    So what are you going to do??

    Reply
  • 4. feistync  |  April 28, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Bekah – good question! At present, we’re still planning to go. We’re just taking some precautions we wouldn’t have otherwise – getting the antiviral meds, being ridiculous about washing hands (I’m pretty obsessive about that anyway), making sure we have all the health insurance and embassy info we could possibly want, and probably not going to the eco park as planned. If the situation changes, we’ll have to consider whatever new information is released. It’s just seems a bit goofy to cancel a trip to somewhere that’s ~800 miles away from the nearest possible case.

    Reply

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