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Mexico’s Swine Flu – Pandemic or Needless Panic?

Swine Flu sparks fears

The news is inundated with reports about the Swine Flu outbreak in Mexico - some of it factual, all of it worrisome. The World Health Organization (WHO) has called an emergency meeting today to discuss the flu that's already killed 62 people in Mexico and infected dozens more in the United States.

Travel Advisory?Travel Advisory?WHO has the alert level set to 3, but it's likely they'll raise it and possibly add travel advisories, trade restrictions and border closures.

"We are at the beginning of the outbreak here, and there are a lot of things that we still don't know," WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl told the Associated Press.

The situation is serious - make no mistake about it. SARs spread like a brushfire across 37 countries in 2002/3, infecting more than 8,000 people, killing 774. Hopefully we've learned a few lessons since then and the WHO will have the tools (and wherewithal) to prevent a worldwide pandemic now.

I'm traveling Monday and have no plans to change my itinerary, but I won't expose myself needlessly either. Want to stay safe while you're traveling? Get back to the basics!

Wash your hands

Sounds simple and it is. Your hands carry a multitude of viruses and regular hand washing (with soap and warm water) slows the transfer of germs. If you've ever been on a cruise, you know hand washing can and does prevent your floating hotel from becoming a floating petri dish.

Cover your mouth

"Cover your cough or your sneeze, wash your hands frequently," advised Dr. Richard Besser, acting CDC director. Even better, cough and sneeze into your elbow, which effectively blocks the spray from hitting others and keeps your hands cleaner.

Consider a flu shot

Tamiflu and Relenza are effective against the current strain influenza. But stockpiling and using inappropriately can lead to trouble down the road.

"If you have Tamiflu at home and you take it for a cold or give it for a respiratory virus that is not influenza, we will be unable to use these drugs when we encounter a lethal strain of flu," Dr. Anne Moscona of Weill Cornell Medical College in New York.

If you're curious where confirmed cases of flu have been found in the US, this Google Map provides a good visual.

Are you traveling this week? Will you change your plans because of this outbreak?

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Thousands of people die from Flu symptons every year. I am travelling on a cruise this coming Friday with my whole family. We are watching the media blow this out of proportion. closing borders is not an effect means of control, it is protectionist. That being said, we are not planning an excustion into Cozamel since we are sure Royal Caribbean will avoid Mexico and stay in Jamaica or Haiti an extra day. We all plan to have fun, stay clean and relax. It is well deserved.

I am traveling to Guatemala next week for 12 days and will just be careful like always about washing hands, etc. Probably will be more careful at the Houston airport and on the planes.

We are traveling to Mexico next weekend but we are still going. It has been planned for months and we are excited about going, we wont go on any trips while we are there.

I am traveling on Monday and don't plan on changing my schedule. However, I will admit that I am concerned and worried. I don't understand why the borders haven't been closed. It's a matter of public safety and nothing to full around with. This should have been done already.

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