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Winter Travel and Flu Season

Early Data Suggests Potentially Severe Flu Season

Based on early data, the 2014-2015 flu season could be severe. Normal mutations to one of the active flu strains mean that this season’s flu vaccine may be less effective at protecting you against the flu. People who get the vaccine, however, are still protected against two common flu strains and may experience milder symptoms if they get the mutated strain.

Whether traveling to warmer weather or a snow-filled adventure, make sure the flu is not your travel companion. Get your flu vaccine before you go to reduce your risk of catching and spreading the flu.

Take everyday precautions—like washing your hands, covering your cough, and staying away from sick people—to protect your health.

If you are at high risk for flu-related complications and experience flu-like symptoms, contact your health care provider as soon as possible. Your provider can prescribe antiviral medications, which work best when started within two days of the onset of flu symptoms.

Wherever you may be going this winter, protecting yourself and others from the flu is important. Here are some useful tips for staying healthy during the winter months.

Before Your Trip

Traveling outside the United States this winter?

  • Learn about health information for your destination.
  • Before you travel, see a doctor familiar with travel medicine to get any vaccines, medicines, and information you need to stay healthy.
  • Talk to your doctor if you are at high risk for flu complications Depending on your situation, your doctor may advise you to take antiviral medications with you when you travel, especially if appropriate medical care is not available at your destination.
  • Know what to do if you become sick or injured on your trip.
  • Visiting an area where there is a risk of malaria? If so, then seek medical care right away if you have a fever. The first symptoms of malaria usually include fever and chills, similar to the symptoms of the flu. However, if malaria is left untreated, the disease can quickly become serious and even life threatening.

Prepare a travel health kit.

Remember that prevention can be travel-sized! Include items in your kit that might be helpful if you get sick, such as tissues, pain or fever medicine, soap, and an alcohol-based hand rub to use in case soap and water are not available. For other health items to consider, see Pack Smart.

Travel only when you feel well.

Watch out for symptoms of the flu before your trip (see How do I know if I have the flu?).

If you think you have the flu or otherwise feel ill, delay your travel plans until your fever has been gone for at least 24 hours. Your fever should be gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine. Even if it means missing out on your plans, staying away from others when you're sick can help protect everyone's health.

If you have worrisome signs or symptoms, seek medical care.

During Your Trip

Take these steps to protect your health and the health of others:

Here are some simple things you can do to take care of yourself and keep others well:

  • Remember to travel only when you feel well. (See above.)
  • Cover your coughs or sneezes with a tissue. No tissue? Then cough or sneeze into your sleeve, not your hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.