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Div. of Media Relations
1600 Clifton Road
MS D-14
Atlanta, GA 30333
(404) 639-3286
Fax (404) 639-7394


August 21, 1998
Contact: CDC, Division of Media Relations
(404) 639-3286

Media Advisory

The CDC and Health Canada investigation of a summertime outbreak of influenza and pneumonia among travelers to Alaska and the Yukon territory has identified more than 1,600 cases, including 47 cases of pneumonia. The CDC now recommends that travelers to this area who are 65 years of age and older and those with chronic medical conditions first consult with their physicians before travel.

Persons 65 years of age and older and those with chronic medical conditions are at higher risk of serious complications from influenza, such as pneumonia. Travelers may want to talk with their physicians about the symptoms and complications of influenza and the advisability of carrying antiviral medications while traveling in Alaska and the Yukon Territory this summer.

During the summer, up to 70,000 overland tour and cruise ship passengers travel to Alaska and the Yukon Territory each week. Many cases of illness continue to be reported in clusters, particularly among smaller groups of tourists sharing transportation and accommodations on overland tours in the region. Information continues to suggest that, after touring inland, ill persons are boarding cruise ships and seeking medical care. These cases contribute to further spread among passengers and crew. In cooperation with CDC, numerous cruise lines have initiated active surveillance for respiratory illnesses, and some have organized vaccination campaigns for crew members and have acquired stocks of antiviral medications. Antivirals can be used to decrease the duration of influenza illness caused by A strain viruses, if administered within 48 hours after symptoms begin. Preliminary characterization has identified the strain as influenza A/Sydney/5/97/ (H3N2)-like.


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