Chicago Sun-Times
With Lori Rackl

Mexico: Swine flu and travel

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If you have plans to travel to Mexico City in the near future -- and yours truly does -- you might be wondering if it's still a good idea to go.

As of right now, I'm still planning on making it to our friends' wedding there in May. (Anyone know where I can get a cute face mask to go with my dress?) But I'll be monitoring the World Health Organization and CDC Web sites, among others, for travel advisories.

Here's the latest from AP, as of late afternoon on Monday:
ATLANTA (AP) -- The federal government is preparing a travel advisory instructing Americans to avoid nonessential travel to Mexico, the acting head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday.
Dr. Richard Besser made the disclosure during a news conference in Atlanta, saying the advisory was being released "out of an abundance of caution."
Besser also reported 40 confirmed cases of swine flu in the United States, including 20 in New York City. He said people can help keep the disease from spreading by taking everyday precautions such as frequent handwashing, covering up coughs and sneezes, and staying away from work or school if they're not feeling well.
Before the CDC changed its advice to travelers, U.S. airlines were reporting that some passengers have already changed or canceled their plans to fly to Mexico.
Spokespeople for US Airways, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines said Monday passengers have requested travel changes, but none of the carriers would say how many. The three airlines said their operations are proceeding as normal and they have not canceled any flights to Mexico as a result of the scare.
"The loads are a little bit less than they normally would be for this time of day, but we are not seeing mass bookings away," said Michelle Mohr, a spokeswoman for US Airways.
American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith said his carrier has not had a lot of requests for travel changes, though there have been some.
Delta continues to follow CDC and government agency recommendations, spokesman Anthony Black said.
"We have seen minimal changes to customer bookings," he said.
Several airlines are allowing passengers to change their travel plans to or from Mexico without any fee or penalty.

It's been one heck of a year so far for Mexico tourism, what with the violence/safety issue and now this. Here's to hoping both problems clear up soon.

What do you think? Carry on as usual or play it safe and skip it?

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28 Comments

hi Lori, I just check out ur site and find many interesting articles here...

I definitely skip my vacation there until they found a way to cure disease.

http://cruisedisne-y.com/disney-florida

frances - another woman (sherry) was on another blog wondering about cruises too. i let her know where this article is in case you want to share info on whatever each of you has found. she is commenting on:
www.examiner.com/x-2424-Yachting-Examiner~y2009m4d26-Swine-flu-affects-US-boaters-in-Mexico?commented#comments

jocelyn, i will check back here to hear how your wedding plans turn out. i too will pray for it! i have a feeling once the swine flu is tracked as far as its gone, and people are treated worldwide (which is happening as we write..) that the scares will die down. i've been all over the net, interacting w/people in mexico city as well as in puerto vallarta. in pv, the locals do not seem concerned (at least the ones who are posting). i am going to chronicle our trip on my new blog if you guys are interested, strunny.wordpress.com, so you can see what it is like through my friend and i's eyes.
we seriously considered not going at the last minute today, basically because of the travel advisory.. but all the places we could go instead (where we have friends we can stay with or something, i'm out of work currently and she doesn't make a ton of money) cost more. plus our tix were nonrefundable. we could have pushed back our trip (our condo owner is wonderful) though, and chose not to in the end. mainly because our summer schedules are both uncertain, but for me traveling this summer may not be possible, but it is hard for me to say right now for sure. but that's why we're going now. even though we looked in to alternate destinations today, it is really only because of my understanding of people here being freaked out by me going to mexico (and coming back!), not because i am that concerned...
mary, maybe we'll run in to you :)
good luck w/all of your weddings and upcoming plans everyone...
off to pack up the last couple items!
masks are ready for the plane!
sarah
also, live webcams of pv are here -
http://www.pvscene.com/?p=289

I just got the Tamiflu from my doctor and plan to take the preventative dosage while spending the next week lying on the beach....

I am actually in the same boat as Sarah... but I have 24 people coming to PV from my wedding next week. Needless to say, we have not cancelled the wedding yet, and no one coming has pulled out... but we are going to wait until next week and see. We are supposed to leave on Tuesday night, so I am just praying that it fizzles, and that my wedding goes on as planned. It would be a shame after going through everything to plan it for the past year and a half, but it may be something that is inevitable....

Any restrictions on Mexicans leaving Mexico City?

i have a ticket to Mexico City- May 6th - will probably change to June- if restuarants - museums etc. are closed - even if your healthy- it wouldn't be the best first time in mexico - plus having to worry all the time - but i'm fortunate to be flexible with my schedule. plus the public transportation may be down.

Me and my girlfriend are traveling to cozumel mexico on friday, may 1st. I no its a long way from mexico city just wondered wether we should still go. I no the flights are still flying out there. Maybe its not as bad in cozumel and cancun??

I'm going to Playa del Carmen, to a five star all-inclusive resort on Saturday. Anyone know of the flu in Cancun area? Any idea's or suggestions?

make that night clubs only so far, closed in PV.

I am also planning on traveling to Puerta Vallarta in May with my husband. I'm not sure what to think at the moment. I guess I'll wait a week or so and keep monitoring the news. We aren't leaving until May 16th so hopefully by that time the spread of the flu virus will have been stopped.

My wife and I are supposed to be going to Playa Del Carmen in 12 days. Has anyone heard of any reports on that area. She is pregnant and very worried. I am concerned about the return flight and in and out of resort. Any details would be of help.

i am traveling with 1 friend to cancun on may 3. we are flying nonstop from ohare. we booked thru apple vacations and we called today to see our options if the u.s. decides to close the borders. They basically said too bad, so sad. i can handle the flu, i just don't want to get stuck in mexico for an extended stay:(

does anyone know about cruising? I have a cruise planned to mexico? I know the some airlines are working with customers any news on cruiselines??

anonymous.. where did you read that? i can't find anything about puerto vallarta cases at all..

mary, that is a great idea to get a script filled prior to going. my friends and i were discussing also the germs in the planes, and craziness at the airport..

our airline agreed to let us change our tickets to fly elsewhere at no extra charge (even though we're not flying to mexico city). we just may lose our $/condo on the beach, which is hard... especially for someone like me, who this trip is a huge treat/reward for. i lost my job months ago and bought this trip at a great deal with part of my tax return, as a happy finally graduating from college present...
not that this matters in the face of taking care of our health.

i just don't want to prematurely cancel, even if it is sort of a pain being there, unless it is really dangerous. but the 24-48 hour incubation period makes me think it probably won't get that far without being able to be contained. i don't know.

I'm scheduled to fly into Mexico City on Sunday the 3rd, from there we hop on the bus for Puebla.
3 days in Puebla for 'cinco de mayo.' celebrations -which may or may not be happenibg.
Then back to DF for 4 nights then up to San Luis Potosi.
walking around with a mask on my face, all the museums closed, doesn't sound like much funhmmm well I guess I'll make up my mind as whether or not to go later this week

I just read that there are suspected(bot confirmed) cases in Puerto Vallarta

I'm going to a small village outside of PV on tuesday with some girlfriends. I'm not terribly worried, but I'll be prudent and bring a lot of hand santizer along, avoid packed crowds, etc. I'm honestly more worried about being stuck an airplane for 5 hours with 300+ other people, breathing stale air. That said, I'm also going to call my doctor in the am and discuss this with her. I'm going to ask for a 'scrip (and get it filled) for Tamiflu to take along as an insurance policy. It's apparently quite effective if taken soon after symptoms start.

PS - i found this online w/people who actually live in mexico city, interesting comments

http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?p=31513378

i am traveling w/2 friends to puerto vallarta on tuesday, however one of them is probably not coming now. we are flying direct to/from puerto vallarta, from chicago actually. i'm curious how people will respond to your question also. so here's our situation - 2 of us aren't concerned (mexico city to puerto vallarta = 550 miles) but our 1 friend is pretty fearful of possibly being quarantined in mexico or something. but from what i understand this swine flu is treatable, especially if caught within the first 72 hours. and the symptoms get flu-like relatively quickly, so that should not be an issue. i don't get what all the uproar is about, if people who have it are being treated and quarantined, and everyone is aware and being clean.. at least i don't get why someone would not travel to puerto vallarta now? but maybe it's just me. i know there are some unconfirmed cases north of pv, but a lot of people reporting in w/these symptoms do not have this, they just have respiratory/other flu illnesses. but everyone is still freaking out.

I say wait and see. If this thing fizzles, then go. If it ramps up and the threat keeps growing, I'd play it safe and skip it.

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This page contains a single entry by Lori Rackl published on April 26, 2009 2:56 PM.

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