Travel Warning: H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) and Severe Cases of Respiratory Illness in Mexico — Avoid Nonessential Travel to Mexico
This information is current as of today, May 01, 2009 at 10:12 EDT
Updated: April 30, 2009
Revised to link to updated antiviral recommendations for travelers
As of April 28, 2009, the Government of Mexico has reported 26 confirmed human cases of H1N1 flu (swine flu), including seven deaths. Investigation is continuing to clarify the spread and severity of the disease in Mexico. The World Health Organization (WHO), the Global Alert and Response Network (GOARN), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have sent experts to Mexico to work with health authorities. CDC has confirmed that seven of 14 respiratory specimens sent to CDC by the Mexican National Influenza Center are positive for influenza A (H1N1) and are similar to the swine influenza viruses recently identified in the United States.
On April 25, the WHO Director-General declared this event a Public Health Emergency of International Concern under the rules of the International Health Regulations. CDC and state public and animal health authorities are currently investigating the outbreak in the United States. Click here to see today’s case count. Some of the U.S. cases have been linked to travel to Mexico. CDC is concerned that continued travel by U.S. travelers to Mexico presents a serious risk for their health and the health of others during travel and after they return to the United States.
At this time, CDC recommends that U.S. travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Mexico. Changes to this recommendation will be posted at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/. Please check this site frequently for updates.
If you must travel to an area that has reported cases of H1N1 flu (swine flu):
- Check updates from these sources:
- Monitor announcements from Mexico’s Ministry of Health and local government, including information about affected areas, as not all areas are equally affected.
- Follow local public health guidelines, including any movement restrictions and prevention recommendations.
- Be aware that Mexico is checking all exiting airline passengers for signs of H1N1 flu (swine flu). Exit screening may cause significant delays at airports.
Antiviral Medications: Antiviral medications for the prevention of H1N1 flu (swine flu) should be considered for travelers from the United States going to Mexico who are at high risk of severe illness from influenza. This would include persons with certain chronic medical conditions, persons aged 65 or older, children younger than 5 years old, and pregnant women. The recommended antiviral drugs for H1N1 flu (swine flu) are oseltamivir (brand name Tamiflu®) and zanamivir (brand name Relenza®). Both are prescription drugs that fight against H1N1 flu (swine flu) by keeping it from reproducing in the body. These drugs can prevent infection if taken as a preventative. Talk to your doctor about correct indications for using influenza antiviral medications. Always seek medical care if you are severely ill.
Further information about CDC’s recommendations for antiviral use for the prophylaxis and treatment of H1N1 flu (swine flu) outbreak can be found at the following websites:
- Health-care professionals
- General public
- Be sure you are up to date with all your routine vaccinations, including a seasonal influenza vaccine. The seasonal vaccine is not expected to offer protection against H1N1 flu (swine flu), but it can protect against seasonal flu which may still be circulating in Mexico and the Southern Hemisphere.
- Pack a travel health kit that contains basic first aid and medical supplies. See Pack Smart in Your Survival Guide to Safe and Healthy Travel for a list of what to include in your travel health kit.
- Identify the health-care resources in the area(s) you will be visiting.
- Check if your health insurance plan will cover you abroad. Consider purchasing additional insurance that covers medical evacuation in case you become sick. For more information, see Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad from the U.S. Department of State.
- Remember that U.S. embassies, consulates and military facilities do not have the legal authority, capability, and resources to evacuate or to give medications, vaccines or medical care to private U.S. citizens overseas.
Monitor the local situation
- Pay attention to announcements from the local government
- Follow local public health guidelines, including any movement restrictions and prevention recommendations
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. This removes germs from your skin and helps prevent diseases from spreading.
- Use waterless alcohol-based hand gels (containing at least 60% alcohol) when soap is not available and hands are not visibly dirty.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and put your used tissue in a wastebasket.
- If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.
- Wash your hands after coughing or sneezing, using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand cleaner (with at least 60% alcohol) when soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread that way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people (within 6 feet). Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
- It is important to follow the advice of local health and government authorities. You may be asked to restrict your movement and stay in your home or hotel to contain the spread of H1N1 flu (swine flu).
- If you are ill with fever and other symptoms of H1N1 flu (swine flu), such as cough and sore throat, consult a medical provider, especially if you think you may have had contact with someone with H1N1 flu (swine flu) or severe respiratory illness in the past 7 days before becoming ill.
- If you need to find local medical care, a U.S. consular officer can help you locate medical services and will inform your family or friends in the United States of your illness. To contact the U.S. Embassy or consulate in the country where you are visiting, call the Overseas Citizens Services at:
- 1-888-407-4747 if calling from the U.S. or Canada,
- 00 1 202-501-4444 if calling from overseas, or
- Find your local US Embassy at Websites of U.S. Embassies, Consulates, and Diplomatic Missions.
- Do not travel while you are sick, except to get local medical care.
- Try to limit contact with others as much as possible. By limiting your contact with other people, you can help prevent the spread of H1N1 flu (swine flu).
- For more information about what to do if you become sick while you are traveling outside the United States, visit Your Survival Guide for Safe and Healthy Travel.
- Closely monitor your health for 7 days.
- If you become ill with fever and other symptoms of H1N1 flu (swine flu), such as cough and sore throat and possibly vomiting and diarrhea during this period, call your doctor or clinic for an appointment right away. Your doctor may test you for influenza and decide whether influenza antiviral treatment is indicated.
- When you make the appointment, tell the doctor the following:
- Your symptoms,
- Where you traveled, and
- If you have had close contact with a person infected with H1N1 flu (swine flu).
- Avoid leaving your home while sick except to get local medical care, or as instructed by your doctor. Do not go to work or school while you are ill. If you must leave your home (for example, to seek medical care), wear a surgical mask to keep from spreading your illness to others.
- Always cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw away used tissues in a trash can.
- Wash your hands with soap and water often and especially after you cough or sneeze. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand gel containing at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with other people as much as possible
- Wear a surgical mask if you are in contact with other people
Mexico Exit Screening
H1N1 flu (swine flu) screening has been instituted at airports and land borders for travelers departing Mexico, according to Mexican health authorities. Passengers showing symptoms of H1N1 flu (swine flu) will be asked to submit voluntarily to physical examination and further evaluation, if needed.
At this time, the United States is not conducting enhanced entry screening of passengers arriving from Mexico, nor is the United States conducting exit screening of passengers departing for Mexico.
The Department of Homeland Security will provide Travel Health Alert Notices to US travelers going to and coming from Mexico at all airports, seaports, and land border crossings. These notices provide advice to travelers on how to reduce their risk of getting sick, the symptoms of H1N1 flu (swine flu), and what to do if the traveler becomes sick.
CDC will provide all ill passengers and their contacts arriving from Mexico with Travel Health Alert Notices. These notices provide advice information regarding seeking health advice from a physician and how to prevent illness in persons who have been exposed but who are not ill.
If you have specific questions about H1N1 flu (swine flu) cases, see http://www.cdc.gov/contact/ or call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636).
To learn more about travel health, visit www.cdc.gov/travel.
For the H1N1 flu (swine flu) situation in Mexico, visit:
- Secretaria de Salud Secretary of Health, Mexico - Web page in Spanish
- World Health Organization: Influenza-Like Illness in the United States and Mexico
- Pan American Health Organization
- For information on antivirals
- For information on H1N1 flu (swine flu) in the United States, visit www.cdc.gov/swineflu