Top 10 Travel Tips to Protect You From the H1N1 Swine Flu Pandemic

At last you’ve got some well earned leave for a winter vacation. Perhaps it’s your last opportunity to take advantage of those recession- buster bargain flight deals.There’s just one major problem to consider. Whether you’re planning a family ski venture in a winter wonderland, or escaping to sunnier climates in the Southern Hemisphere, you’ll need to take special care when travelling. Because this winter, the H1N1 swine flu is also enjoying a successful world tour – of pandemic proportions. And you could be on its hit list!So here’s your instant top 10 travel-tip check-list, to help you and your loved ones enjoy a great and healthy holiday, while reducing your chances of infection by the H1N1 Swine Flu virus.(1) If you exhibit possible H1N1 symptoms close to your departure date, STAY AT HOME! Don’t put others at risk. Should you fall ill while abroad, contact your Embassy, High Commission or Consulate for advice on English speaking doctors and local medical services.(2) Check-out the health status of your destined country – before you depart. You can do this online, via the World Health Organisation website. When arriving, some countries screen passengers for Swien Flu symptoms and quarantine suspected cases. Get all appropriate vaccinations required for your destination (including seasonal flu).(3) Ensure you have comprehensive travel/health insurance, check for exclusions and special clauses. Also find out your tour operator’s policy for assisting clients exposed to the H1N1 virus.(4) Prepare an emergency flu prevention and medical travel kit, small and light enough to pack into your luggage. If you’re flying,check the current airport security restrictions for items you can carry in hand luggage – particularly liquids. Include adequate supplies of alcohol-wipes, hand-cleaning gel, disposable tissues, basic medical supplies for flu symptoms (ibuprofen, etc.)(5) While en-route, by plane: use anti-bacterial wipes to clean surrounding surfaces (chair-arms, seat-belt, light button, etc.) Avoid touching shared magazines. Take your own pillow and blanket. By train/bus, try to keep windows open for maximum ventilation. (Likewise hotel rooms or apartments.)(6) KEEP WASHING YOUR HANDS, properly and frequently. Ideally use warm, running water and soap. When travelling, this isn’t always an option. So keep a supply of anti-bacterial wipes and hand cleaning gels. Shower regularly, especially after journeys. Change into fresh clothes and discard or wash worn garments. When washing unavailable, refrain from touching eyes, nose and mouth.(7) Drink lots of bottled water, it’s essential you keep your body rehydrated.(8) Avoid crowded gatherings or close confinement with other people – especially anyone showing flu-like symptoms. Wipe public surfaces before touching (like door handles, counters, washroom-seats, etc.)(9) Avoid contact with animals – particularly on livestock markets. Animal to human transmission is extremely rare, perhaps impossible at present. But animals may harbour the virus. So the less you expose yourself to it, the better.(10) After returning from an affected area, closely monitor you health for one to two weeks for flu-like symptoms (sore-throat, cough, runny nose, headache, muscle aches, etc.) Should you show symptoms, get in touch with your doctor or local hospital – by phone, immediately.All of these tips are recommended by health officials. Although there is no magic formula that can protect you from swine flu, by following these recommendations you’ll reduce significantly the chance of infection. Enjoy a fun and relaxing vacation, and stay healthy.Copyright (c) 2009 Mark Farrell

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