Insuring your Holiday against Swine Flu

Wherever you travel in the world, there are certain risks and considerations that you take into account without even realising it, such as acceptable women's dress in Muslim countries; vaccinations prior to travelling to countries with Malaria risk; even making sure you carry the correct currency and learn foreign phrases in a local dialect.

The risks involved in disregarding such matters are obvious, yet there are many more involved in international travel that you cannot prepare for, such as viral outbreaks. When, in 2009, an outbreak of Swine Flu, Influenza A virus subtype H1N1, was announced in Mexico, the U.N. World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Unites States' Centre for Disease Control (CDC) warned that the situation, if uncontrolled, could escalate to a pandemic. The outbreak currently sits at Level Five, just below the required Level Six to indicate a pandemic.

Although widespread international panic ensued and untold numbers of holidaymakers were disrupted, whether they were visiting or had visited Mexico or not, potentially millions were undeniably saved because the threat was taken seriously, with travellers screened at airports and placed in quarantine if they were suspected to be carrying the virus.

Such unforeseen circumstances challenged international air travel to its limits, forcing countries to work together to ensure a pandemic did not occur as people returned unchecked to their home countries before a diagnosis was made global, in April 2009. In total, over 5,000 cases were announced in Mexico alone, with 97 deaths. By June, the virus was said to have reached over 66 countries worldwide.

Because of such unavoidable risks, it's vital that when you travel you are fully covered by the appropriate travel insurance that ensures you can receive medical attention whenever it's required. Failing to carry valid and appropriate travel insurance could result in delayed treatment and high medical bills.

If you're planning to travel to global destinations, then you could benefit from worldwide travel insurance, which can cover long stays, short breaks, single trips, or even multiple trips throughout the year to anywhere in the world and would enable you to seek medical assistance in the country you visit.

You could also benefit from taking particular precautions in learning how to prevent the spread of infection. Good respiratory and hand hygiene is best in the case of Swine Influenza. In the same way you would prevent the spread of human flu, you can apply precautions such as always using and disposing of a clean tissue once sneezing, and washing your hands after sneezing. Should you experience any flu-like symptoms drink plenty of fluids, rest and take paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin to ease any symptoms such as head or muscle ache. As with common flu, should symptoms persist for a prolonged period, or if new symptoms manifest, such as rash or aversion to bright lights, then you should consult your doctor.

You could also benefit from adhering to official advice on travel and considering whether your trip or holiday is necessary. If you do find yourself in an international location and you could be at risk of infection of any kind, pay attention to local health warnings and advice and, if in doubt, seek the opinion of a medical professional.

by Adam Singleton


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