Growing Concern Over Swine Flu

An industry look at the swine flu emergency

By: By Skye Mayring

A public health emergency was declared over the break out of Swine flu // (c) 2009
At press time, seven cases of laboratory
confirmed cases of Swine Flu were found in
California, and a total of 40 were found in the U.S.

On Sunday, April 26, the U.S. declared a public health emergency in response to the global reports of Swine Influenza. At press time, according to the Web site of the World Health Organization (WHO), seven cases of laboratory confirmed cases were found in California, and a total of 40 were found in the U.S.

In a statement today, the president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, Roger Dow, said that travelers should listen to experts and the U.S. government when determining how to address health concerns.

“According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), swine flu should not discourage people from traveling to or within the U.S.,” said Dow in the statement. “The U.S. Travel Association has contacted all relevant agencies with an offer to help in any way needed and will soon begin posting updates on”

However, travel to and within Mexico seems to be the greater concern at this time. As of April 26, according to the WHO’s Web site, the government of Mexico had reported 18 laboratory confirmed cases of swine flu and reported that clinical cases have been reported in 19 of the country’s 32 states, unofficial counts have put the number much higher — The New York Times reported that more than 1,600 people in Mexico were thought “to have been sickened by the virus.”

Despite the fear of an outbreak, travelers to Mexico’s resort areas are urged by the Mexico Tourism Board to move forward with travel plans. According to the official Web site of the Mexico Tourism Board,, “there have been no reported cases of influenza-like illness in the resort areas along the coast of Mexico. The CDC has not recommended that people avoid travel to Mexico at this time.”

In a letter, Brenda Anderson, CEO of Site Global, an organization for meetings and event professionals asked that members get the facts about swine flu before talking to clients.

“As we learned from Site members in Canada during the SARS crisis, it is important to lead with facts and information, so that we can move forward productively versus with the fear that accompanies dramatic headlines. Right now, we know there is a lot of confusion and many questions about how this may affect already booked programs,” wrote Anderson in the letter. “We are gathering the feedback and data from our community, so you will be able to have informed conversations with your business partners.”

Today, AeroMexico said in a statement that concerned passengers traveling to, from or within Mexico have the option of rebooking their flight in the same class of service without a penalty fee. The statement went on to say that there has been no detection of swine flu cases that have required intervention by the authorities and that AeroMexico is working with Mexico City International Airport officials and officials at other Mexico airports that have been affected by the outbreak.

Cruise Lines International Association also released a statement in response to international concern over the matter stating that no cases of swine flu in cruise ports or aboard cruise ships have been reported. The cruise industry, public health officials and government agencies — including the WHO, the Department of Homeland Security and the CDC — are working together to monitor the situation and examine further steps that can be taken if need be, according to the statement.

There have been some common misconceptions about swine flu: It should be noted that people cannot contract swine flu from eating pork or other foods. Rather, swine flu is transmitted from pigs to humans and from people to pigs when in close proximity to each other.

Swine flu symptoms in humans are similar to the typical symptoms of seasonal influenza, which include fever, lack of appetite, coughing and lethargy. Some people who have caught swine flu have reported additional symptoms, such as nausea, a runny nose, vomiting, a sore throat and/or diarrhea.

A full list of preventative measures against swine flu can be accessed through the Department of Homeland Security and the CDC’s Web sites.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Cruise Lines International Association

Department of Homeland Security

World Health Organization

U.S. Travel Association