Last Tuesday we wrote about the possibility that the Avian Flu was still lurking and the potential problems that it could cause for travelers. It appears we were focused on both the wrong geography and the wrong “carrier”.
Late last week it was revealed that there appears to be a previously unknown variation of the swine flu that has combined into a form that can be communicated to humans. In Mexico, mainly in Mexico City, it appears that 81 have died of the flu and over 1300 may be infected. In addition, according to the CDC 8 cases of swine influenza have surfaced in the western and southern US, although, as of this date, no fatalities have been recorded.
International organizations are worried the this particular strain of the flu could become a pandemic. A pandemic is a flu that can 1) infect humans, 2) be easily spread between people and 3) for which there is no immunity. The last pandemic in 1968 (the Hong Kong Flu) resulted in over a million deaths, while the two other 20th century pandemics resulted in over 50 million deaths.
See this article from the BBC for more information on the flu.
Until the threat situation in Mexico becomes clear, we receommend avoiding travel to Mexico City. Until more details are known, it might be prudent to reconsider any immediate travel anywhere in Mexico. Of course, these are issues that all travelers must decide for themselves.
If you must travel to Mexico, wash your hands frequently during travel, avoid groups of people (hard to avoid when flying) and contact with people (hand shakes, etc.). Finally, wear a mask. Yes, it looks silly but is very effective in thwarting the influenza.
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