Swine Flu Goes Global

With the frenzy over this strain of influenza growing, should outdoor adventurers be worried?

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If you’ve planned an overseas vacation but are now worried about the hysteria over swine flu, you might think it’s a good idea to avoid foreign cities in favor of outdoor destinations. But even adventure travel hotspots aren’t immune to the swine flu madness.

According to a recent Los Angeles Times article, “some of the world’s premier outdoors destinations have become swept up in the hysteria.” But all is not lost: It’s a big world, and the article includes a few popular destinations where the virus has yet to make a large impact, noting Hawaii and Costa Rica as places still “worth visiting.”

With the summer months approaching, many might be wondering if it is okay to travel overseas, and especially if our neighbor to south is safe. While all travelers should avoid the crowded streets of Mexico City, where numbers of the infected have risen to 2,500, it’s possible other places in the country are safe.But the only certainty might be just waiting to strap on a pack at all in foreign countries until all of this flu hysteria blows over.

While there are no definite answers behind where to travel and where not to travel, if you’re braver than this blogger and heading south of the border, you can take a few simple precautions. Wash your hands often, use a tissue and cover your nose and mouth when sneezing, carry hand sanitizer in your pack, and if you start to feel sick, avoid ill persons, find a hotel or hostel and rest for a week or more, until you’re feeling better.

Of course, you might not make your flight at all: Several passengers have been turned away for having a wee bit of a cold, cough, fever or sore throat. Five people were detained on a plane, two of which were taken off a Qantas flight bound for Los Angeles because they had flu-like symptoms. Those planning on hitting either the Overland Track in Australia (one of BACKPACKER’s best unknown treks) or the famed Milford Track in New Zealand should plan on getting that cough or cold under control before hitting the trail.

More information, including symptoms and preventions about the risk of traveling and swine flu can be found in this announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

-Swine Flu hysteria spanning global outdoors realm; is any place safe? (The Los Angeles Times, Pete Thomas, 4-28-09)

–Matt Draper