Swine Flu & Whether to Travel

Jun 7th, 2009, 07:41 PM
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Swine Flu & Whether to Travel

I notice quite a bit of misinformation about swine flu across the forums. The northern hemisphere has a period of grace as they are presently in their summer, a time when influenza is less likely to be passed around. I imagine things will be very different by November, but hopefully a vaccine will be available by then. Though of course influenza viruses can mutate very rapidly.
Here in Australia, swine flu has proved to be much more contagious than normal influenza and though sufferers here have not died, there are good medical resources and care available. However it is early days and so far the number of cases has been contained - though growing.

One reason all governments are concerned about swineflu is its potential negative effect on economies that are already under stress. Data from previous epidemics shows that the economic effect of people cancelling plans for travel etc because of fear of a pandemic has proved to be much greater than the actual economic effects of the pandemic itself.
There are excellent information websites at
My feeling would be that if you don't have travel insurance that will cover you, if you have a compromised immune system, or if you're not prepared to spend much of a very expensive holiday laid up in bed (and possibly very unwelcome in your accommodation) don't go.
francophiletasmania is offline  
Jun 7th, 2009, 09:35 PM
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Whether it's misinformation or variance on reporting is debatable given that circumstances are developing.

It'd be interesting to see what other flu cycle numbers have been before contributing further to pandemic panic but certainly as with any health concerns, people would be foolish not to take whatever preventative measures they can but refraining from travel is a bit over the top.

I reckon franco that your last para comment
"or if you're not prepared to spend much of a very expensive holiday laid up in bed (and possibly very unwelcome in your accommodation) don't go."
is a little of a Knee jerk over the top on what could be considered a relatively remote possibility.

Just got back myself from a Melbourne trip, in plenty of public places including MCG for footy and public library and hardly a sniff or a cough about.
Bushranger is offline  
Jun 7th, 2009, 11:10 PM
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Having just returned from an around the world trip that involved six countries, I don't agree. I personally think the media has gone wild and is causing Swine Flu hysteria.

I can certainly understand how quickly a virus can spread though, considering how many airports I've just gone through and how many people I rubbed shoulders with, but come on, let's use a little common sense here.
Melnq8 is offline  
Jun 8th, 2009, 03:45 AM
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I tend to agree with you Melnq , at least as far as Australia is concerned . Many reported cases in Melbourne but you would not know it in going about your daily business.

I think itis quite alright to travel and exercise flu etiquette - cover mouth if coughing and wash hands often - all things any ' nice ' person ought to do all the time anyway .
JohnFitz is offline  
Jun 8th, 2009, 06:01 PM
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I actually agree with franco. My travel dollars are purely discretionary. A LOT of the spread of the virus is from travelers returning from holidays, having picked it up overseas, on planes, or on cruises...didn't that cruise ship off Australia cause a big kerfuffle?

I probably would have gone to NZ/Australia next month if it had not been for the developing flu season. Instead I'll be sticking to car trips where I won't be cooped up for 10-12 hours on a plane.
mlgb is offline  
Jun 8th, 2009, 09:59 PM
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At the risk of seeming callous I think this epidemic has been a good thing. It has raised the awareness of the travelling public and governments to the potential of a really nasty transmissible disease. If the H5N1 flu were to achieve human to human spread then all travel should cease.

My hope is that the media fever over a disease, which is rather mild in its impact on the population, does not lead to complacency when we are faced with a significant medical emergency on a global scale.
Saltuarius is offline  
Jun 9th, 2009, 02:30 AM
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It was announced on the TV news tonight that New Zealanders should avoid travelling to Australia if possible. It's amazing how many people are being quarantined after returning from Australia.
nelsonian is offline  
Jun 9th, 2009, 02:58 AM
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There's also quarantining being done in Australia nelsonian but only when there is suspected cases or people have been with people known to have it, and then there have been total blanket quarantining policies announced just because people have been to Victoria - and that when reported having it numbers were in hundreds - Victorias population being something like 5-6 million!

as to: " didn't that cruise ship off Australia cause a big kerfuffle? " - yes, certainly a big kerfuffle - three crew were reported as having the flu and they were kept isolated and no cases reported with passengers!
Bushranger is offline  
Jun 9th, 2009, 09:57 AM
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Isn't it interesting though that the countries which immediately implemented very strict quarantine and screenings of passengers entering from Mexico via airports have much lower rates of infection. Peru is a good example.
mlgb is offline  
Jun 9th, 2009, 02:01 PM
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I think the media is causing hysteria. I'm on Australia's Central Coast at the moment and have a little cold. No fever; no flu symptoms whatsoever; a sniffle. Went into a pharmacy in Gosford and was treated as if I had black plague. The pharmacist had a look of horror on his face and backed away from me when he learned I'd flown there from New Zealand and had come from the U.S.

I told him I felt fine but wanted something for my sinuses. He said that just because I didn't have symptoms yet didn't mean I wasn't infected--and he began asking me questions. I rushed out of the store before he could have me quarantined. I'm serious.

I think the media is to blame and that while common sense and precautions are wise -- this is ridiculous.

Heading to Port Douglas tonight. Will do a report when I get home ... presuming I don't die of swine flu first ;-)
Songdoc is offline  
Jun 9th, 2009, 03:02 PM
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I've just put the swine pigs on your trail Songdoc and pigs will fly!

But before we do get too carried away I think screenings goes before quarantining and one would also wonder just how many land crossings from Mexico to the US occur in comparison to flights anywhere, Australia doing temperature screenings at airports for what it is/was worth and then no idea on numbers re passengers or cases to Peru.

Sort of apples and oranges.

But if you wanted to quarantine every air passenger, yes you might as well stop all global flights.
Bushranger is offline  
Jun 9th, 2009, 04:53 PM
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One destination I'd avoid for the moment is China, as the government's reaction has been fairly draconian, although admittedly very effective. One US visitor, I recall, found himself in quarantine and surrounded by doctors and nurses in space suits for several days on the strength of having a temperature one degree above normal.

Jetting away without comprehensive travel insurance is always foolish IMO, all the more so at the moment.

As far as I know, nobody in Australia has been seriously ill as a result of contracting this virus. It's also worth remembering that common-or-garden influenza regularly kills 20-30,000 Americans every year.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Jun 9th, 2009, 09:48 PM
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Well I am off to Europe next week - my attitude is that I always take a risk travelling, so I will try to be vigilant (note 'try') - it is a part work trip, and if my employer (a reasonably large org) said I should not travel then I would comply. Google also has a map of the rate of flu cases http://www.google.org/flutrends/intl/en_au/ - I'm betting that the flu rates wil be lower this winter in Oz because of the extra precautions we are taking with hygeine and an increased willingness to stay home if we are sick!
micador53 is offline  
Jun 10th, 2009, 03:17 PM
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I see a news report citing 54 confirmed cases of swine flu associated with that cruise ship.
"NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said 54 of them were associated with the Pacific Dawn cruise ship, a further 18 associated with overseas travel and six cases acquired in Victoria."
mlgb is offline  
Jun 11th, 2009, 05:59 AM
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Don't know how that stuff from the Kiwis gets online but if you go and see a bit further mlgb you'll find reports like http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/n...u/1528350.aspx

A google on Pacific Dawn Cruise Ship Swine Flu will have you seeing a heap more the same and as it had been reported on television news.
I'd tend to ignore some stuff as certainly if 54 people aboard had the flu, they would have been further isolated and there would have been a far greater coverage I expect.

It is quite possibly stuff and then people relaying false stuff to whomever that just adds to the panicdemic, but you go on with your face guard and sure you'll be OK.
Bushranger is offline  
Jun 12th, 2009, 03:16 PM
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S. said: "If the H5N1 flu were to achieve human to human spread then all travel should cease."

Hasn't it all been human to human? I've heard it said there's been no COMMUNITY spread in Australia yet. There were definitely not 54 cases on the Pacific Dawn.
Suelynne is offline  
Jun 12th, 2009, 04:33 PM
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I'm no phylogene or hemagluttinin genephile Sue [but nice to drop a name!] but I think that Salty is using a reference to the Avian [Bird] Flu H5N1 that is far more deadly but fortunately for us two legged species has not as yet mutated into a human to human transmission to emphasise that our friendly little piggie mates may have given us the opportunity for a pandemic control dry run - those piggies are alleged to be rather smart and actually quite a bit of piggies can be useful to humans - insulin development for one.

But back to the piggie flu [H1N1 -09]that didn't, yep it sure transmitts human to human and not even sure what the pigginess connection originally was other than if it was something to do with being prevalent with raising pigs but plenty of medical sites that are calling it yet another strain of the more normal Flus that fly about the globe whereas
http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/358/3/261 gives something of a rundown on H5N1.

Now if that had gone on or goes on to become human to human, Salty is in deed correct in saying we'll have a monster of the 1918 black plague 50 million deaths proportion and possibly greater on our hands and hopefully we'll not all be thinking about the "Boy who cried Wolf"
Bushranger is offline  
Jun 13th, 2009, 04:21 AM
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Oops! Is H5N1 Avian flu? I'm not good at retaining numbers, particularly my mobile number! Sorry everyone, and thanks for edifying me Bushranger!
Suelynne is offline  
Jun 13th, 2009, 09:46 PM
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Must admit Sue, the name codes can be confusing when we have always just referred to the flu as flu - just stear clear of anyone looking like http://s44.photobucket.com/albums/f2...nt=Swinery.jpg
Bushranger is offline  
Jun 13th, 2009, 11:43 PM
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Ha ha, bushranger!
Suelynne is offline  

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