Tag Archives: epidemic

Why I Went to Mexico During the Swine Flu Outbreak

So after much back and forth, I decided to head to Cabo for my fun filled girls vacation. And man, am I glad I did. To quickly refresh, I was struggling with the decision of leaving for Cabo San Lucas, located in Mexico, just days after the swine flu outbreak was splashed all over the media.

I definitely did my research before leaving. I called my primary care physician, who told me that since I was a healthy, young (don’t you love when they call you young after 30?) woman and there were no state restrictions on traveling to Mexico, it was OK to begin my Mexican fiesta.

I reached out to my old response director at the American Red Cross, who had since moved on to another emergency response job, and is well versed in pandemics and epidemics and really tells it like it is. He said it was really a decision that was up to me and if I was going to a resort, I would probably be fine. Resorts go out of their way preserve business, especially during something like this, and if I was planning to visit downtown areas, I just needed to make sure to use some antibacterial gel and wash my hands with soap and water.

One of my traveling companions was also a nurse, so I felt better when she said she talked to many of the doctors and other nurses in the hospital where she worked who gave her the go ahead to travel to Cabo. They said while this was an unknown flu strain, the regular flu kills something like 36,000 people a year and we weren’t even close to that (at that point). She also said she would bring along some masks just in case; the good kind, from the hospital ward.

There were also the people from Mexico, specifically Cabo, who reached out to me on my blog and told me that there was nothing to be concerned about out there. No known cases were reported and people were not walking around in masks at the beach, bars or in the streets. The sun and beach were awaiting my arrival!

And then there was the research I did on my own. As a person who worked with and for the media, I know how things can get blown out of proportion. I noticed that the first three days, this was a huge news item. Then, a Supreme Court Justice announced he was retiring and the swine flu suddenly became old news. I also looked on a map where Cabo was in relation to Mexico City, where the “outbreak” had first started. It was over 1,000 miles away; you’d have to take a plane or a boat to get from one area to the other and somehow, that made me feel like there was less risk.

After reviewing all these factors and debating in my head for nearly a week (and purchasing tons of Purell), I decided to keep my reservations and go as planned. A lot of people helped me make my decision and frankly, while I love and respect the media, it was because of them that I almost did not go.

I think there is a better chance of me getting the swine flu by traveling on the subway to a job interview then from my recent trip to a tropical paradise. It’s a personal decision that must be made by the person traveling.  I will say that Mexico’s tourism is definitely suffering from the negative media surrounding the swine flu, when frankly, in many areas, there does not seem to be much to be concerned about. While I probably wouldn’t recommend heading to the heart of Mexico City, if you have a trip planned, do your research and do what feels right for you. Don’t let scare tactics and endless news reports make the decision for you. Bon voyage!

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Can the Swine Flu Disappear Before I Leave for Cabo? In Seven Days!

With the way 2009 is shaping up, I shouldn’t be surprised that the swine flu is hitting Mexico during the exact time that I am supposed to land in beautiful Cabo San Lucas…seven days from now.

After my husband lost his job, I lost my job, I got another job and lost that before I even started it, I decided to jump at the chance to go away with two of my best girlfriends to their recently acquired timeshare in Cabo. They had planned the trip for a few months before I got on board, and this seemed as good a time as any to get away, relax with my friends, sip margaritas and work on my tan. Boy, did I need this vacation more than ever.

We have talked about this trip for the last six weeks. We’ve been so excited for the food, the drinks, the sun, escaping New Jersey and our everyday lives. Going away on vacation together was something we had always wanted to do and until now, something we had never made happen.

Then came the swine flu. When I first heard the news on Saturday afternoon, I didn’t think too much about it. It seemed to be isolated in or around Mexico City and that was nowhere near Cabo. Then it started spreading – New York, Kansas, California, New Zealand; it was like you named a city or country and it had been affected by the swine flu. Even though there were numerous accounts of infestation popping up left and right, I was confident my trip would not be affected. I checked the World Health Organization and CDC websites and there was nothing on there about Cabo San Lucas; I searched online through news reports about traveling to the luxurious resort area and still found nothing. While I am obsessed with the news, I slowly found myself distancing away from the television set.

By Monday, the news got worse and I couldn’t escape it . The CDC recommended non-essential travel to Mexico be canceled. My mom was calling to tell me that she didn’t think I should go to Cabo. I wasn’t too surprised; if I was a mom, I would probably advise my son or daughter the same thing. I checked in with my girlfriends and they said until there was a mandate against going to Mexico, they were going to go. One of them is a nurse, so she knows the dangers of this virus. They said they completed understood if I wanted to back out given the circumstances. But I don’t want to back out. I also don’t want to explore this gorgeous city with face masks.

Today, Tuesday, has been the worst day thus far of “Deciding Whether to Go to Cabo with Swine Flu Swirling Around Mexico.” Friends are sending emails, news reports are getting worse; I even heard something about restaurants not letting patrons eat in their establishments, they can only take orders to-go.

That is not the vacation I want to have – walking into bars with face masks or wondering if the maid who cleaned my room just infected my bed with swine flu. But I don’t want to cancel just yet. What if it slows down by the time I leave? Is that even possible?  I have a call into my doctor for his opinion and the airline will honor my ticket at a later date. I’ll probably make my decision at the 11th hour, see how it all plays out until then.

This was the one thing I was looking forward to given the fact that everything else has gone downhill since the beginning of the year. How much worse can 2009 get? I fear that by saying that, I am just setting myself up for the next hit.