Health & Beauty | May 2009
|Should You Be Afraid to Travel to Mexico?|
On May 7, 2009, Patrick Harrison, an American who owns a PR Firm in Puerto Vallarta, sent a letter to WHO asking why travel restrictions are still in place for Mexico, where only 20+ influenza A(H1N1) virus related deaths have been reported. Here's his letter - and WHO's response.
A respectful question to the Directors of Communication of the World Health Organization:
I am an American that owns a PR Firm in Puerto Vallarta, MX. Each year, 36,000 Americans die from influenza yet the WHO never issues travel restriction warnings to the US. Why are travel restrictions still in place for Mexico where only 20+ deaths have been reported?
You must know that the WHO is almost single-handedly killing more people with your restrictions than the H1N1 virus. Tourism here is being killed and people will soon be starving because of financial collapse.
Please, please give me an answer on the travel restriction double-standard.
I realize that your days must be chaos, but we appreciate your time and a response. Mexico and her citizens need your response.
- Patrick Harrison
WHO Information Management & Communications Project Leader, Gregory Härtl, immediately replied:
WHO is not recommending travel restrictions related to the outbreak of the influenza A(H1N1) virus. Today, international travel moves rapidly, with large numbers of individuals visiting various parts the world. Limiting travel and imposing travel restrictions would have very little effect on stopping the virus from spreading, but would be highly disruptive to the global community.
Influenza A(H1N1) has already been confirmed in many parts of the world. The focus now is on minimizing the impact of the virus through the rapid identification of cases and providing patients with appropriate medical care, rather than on stopping its spread internationally.
Furthermore, although identifying the signs and symptoms of influenza in travellers can be an effective monitoring technique, it is not effective in reducing the spread of influenza as the virus can be transmitted from person to person before the onset of symptoms. Scientific research based on mathematical modelling indicates that restricting travel will be of limited or no benefit in stopping the spread of disease.
Historical records of previous influenza pandemics, as well as experience with SARS, have validated this point.
Travellers can protect themselves and others by following simple recommendations related to travel aimed at preventing the spread of infection. Individuals who are ill should delay travel plans and returning travellers who fall ill should seek appropriate medical care. These recommendations are prudent measures which can limit the spread of many communicable diseases and not only Influenza A(H1N1).
- Gregory Härtl
Project Leader, Information Management & Communications
Epidemic and Pandemic Alert and Response (EPR)
World Health Organization
Should you be afraid to travel to Puerto Vallarta? Health Care Resources Puerto Vallarta's Pamela Thompson has the latest news and health reports from around Banderas Bay. (Click HERE for local swine flu updates)