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Press Release

For Immediate Release: October 8, 1999
Contact: CDC Media Relations (404) 639-3286

Flu Season 1999-2000: Information for Travelers

  • The risk for exposure to influenza during travel to foreign countries varies, depending on season and destination. In the Tropics, flu can occur throughout the year; in the Southern Hemisphere, most activity occurs from April through September. In temperate climate zones of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, travelers also can be exposed to influenza viruses during the summer, especially when traveling as part of large organized tourist groups with persons from areas of the world where influenza viruses are circulating.
  • Because of the short incubation period for flu, exposure to the virus during travel can result in illness that begins while traveling, which is an inconvenience and potential danger, especially for persons at increased risk for complications. Persons in high-risk groups especially should receive the most current vaccine. Persons at high risk who received the previous season's vaccine, before travel, should be re-vaccinated in the fall or winter with the current vaccine.
  • Because flu vaccine may not be available during the summer in North America, persons 65 years and older and others at high risk should consult with their physicians before embarking on travel during the summer. It may be advisable for such persons to carry antiviral medications to either prevent or treat the flu.
  • If you develop symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough, sore throat or fever, while you are traveling, you should contact your tour director, hotel staff, guide, or physician. As with any illness, if you feel that you are having difficulty breathing, you should consult a physician or seek urgent medical attention. Travel personnel or hotel staff are likely to have information on local medical facilities should you require them.
  • If a physician diagnoses you with flu and it has been less than 48 hours since the onset of symptoms, the antiviral medications rimantadine or amantadine and zanamivir may help to lessen your symptoms. Amantadine and rimantadine are chemically related drugs that can limit the severity and duration of symptoms from influenza type A viruses. They are not effective against influenza type B or other viral respiratory pathogens. Zanamivir, another antiviral drug, can decrease symptoms from influenza type A and B infections. These medications must be prescribed by a physician, who should review your medical history.
  • The travel industry is working closely with public health authorities. Some cruise lines have initiated surveillance for respiratory illness among both passengers and crew members and have vaccinated their crews against influenza.

Flu Season 1999-2000: See also...

  • Secretary Shalala Urges Older Americans to get 1999 flu shot
  • Is there a new flu virus circulating this season?
    Has flu season come early in the United States?
  • Vaccine Information
  • Persons with Chronic Conditions
  • Flu Pandemics


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