Joined: 11 March 2006
Before you take off, learn about current status of H1N1 at your destination and any other vaccines you might need. In addition, find out what resources might be available in the event of an emergency and who you could call. If you are going to a less developed country, talk to your doctor about bringing anti-viral drugs like Tamiflu. The World Health Organization, Centers For Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. State Department are valuable sources of information.
2. Prepare For Inconveniences
Many international airports are monitoring visitors, so you may be quarantined if they suspect that you have H1N1 or have been exposed to the illness. According to the U.S. State Department, China quarantined thousands of U.S. travelers between May and August, but since September, quarantines have been less frequent. Because quarantines can last several days, it is crucial that travelers with chronic conditions bring extra medication.
3. Face Mask
According to the experts we talked to, the common surgical mask provides little protection against H1N1 because the virus can still pass through the mask's pores. A N95 respirator is widely considered more effective, because it is designed to filter out minute particles. The CDC's Web site does warn that it is more difficult to breathe through a respirator over a long duration and it is not intended for children. Both are available for purchase online.
4. Practice Good Hygiene
Regardless of whether you get the vaccination or not, good hygiene is a basic and critical rule in the war against H1N1. The maxims are tried and true: wash your hands frequently with soap and water; use alcohol-based hand sanitizers; avoid contact with mucus membranes (eyes, nose, mouth); cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. Dr. Myles Druckman, a vice president for International SOS, says you should try to avoid standing near people who are ill, maintaining a distance of at least three to six-feet.
5. Don't fly
If you suspect you are coming down with the flu, and especially if you register a fever, don't travel. Not only do you face the risk of quarantine, but you're putting your fellow passengers and co-workers in jeopardy. Your firm and your family will understand. It will be easier to recover from home where you know your doctors and don't have to deal with the stress of travel. If you are worried about the cost of cancellation, purchase travel insurance beforehand, just make sure you read the fine print and pick a provider that does not make exclusions for pandemics or epidemics.
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