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Avoid catching H1N1 virus while travelling

November 18, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Get tips on how to avoid catching the H1N1 virus while travelling this holiday season.Infectious disease experts say the H1N1 virus loves to travel. And this holiday season it'll have plenty of opportunities to hitch a ride. Numerous hands touch your baggage, your seats and door knobs.

"The biggest advice I can give is if you're sick not to travel," said White Memorial Medical Center's Dr. Byron Williams.

And even if you're not sick, Dr. Williams says this flu season is not the best time to be visiting grandparents.

"If the youngster is below the age of five considerations should be taken as to whether or not the travel is really essential," said Dr. Williams. "If you are immunocompromised, pregnant, or below the age of five, you should consider whether or not you should travel."

Different countries set their own H1N1 policies. Detention and quarantine are always a risk if you travel with a fever or cough.

"Specifically in China and Japan you will not be allowed into that country if they screen you positive," said Dr. Williams.

If you end up getting sick on the road, Dr. Williams say access to care is always an issue especially if you're hoping to get antivirals such as Tamiflu at the first sign of symptoms. The best defense: keep your hands clean.

"The biggest thing you can carry with you is a little jar of Purell or something just to maintain hygiene," said Dr. Williams.

In California, health officials have distributed about five million doses of the H1N1 flu vaccine.

If you've been immunized, Dr. Williams says it will make traveling safer, but he's not ashamed to be the "Grinch" that steals your family's holiday celebration.

"I'd tell grandma that you'll have another year to see your grandchildren if you wait this one out," said Dr. Williams.

In addition to everything else you're planning on packing, toss in some extra tissues, antibacterial soap and travel-sized hand sanitizers for your trip.


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