You may be concerned about recent news reports of swine flu (swine influenza A [H1N1]).
Many people will get sick and not feel good. Most people will probably recover on their own without any long-term damage. Those whose health is already compromised, those who are weak or already battling another illness, may have a more complicated, serious struggle with the disease. There will be some deaths, as there are every year from flu.
Should you travel to Turkey now?
I can’t tell you what to do—you must make a decision you can be comfortable with—but I can tell you what I’m doing:
I’m taking two trips to Turkey in 2009. I’m having a great time. When I arrived at the airport in Istanbul, a medical team met the plane and collected questionnaires we passengers had filled out during the flight regarding our health, and our contact information in Turkey. They were ready to examine anyone who felt ill. So far as I know, no one on our flight felt ill, so we proceeded as usual to passport control and baggage claim.
As mentioned above, this flu pandemic has the potential to spread to many countries. No country may escape its spread. I may catch it. I may catch it at home, I may catch it in Paris (where I’m also going), I may catch it in Turkey. I may want to stay in bed for a few days. I won’t be happy. But I don’t expect disaster.
Instead of dwelling on the fear of catching the flu, I intend to dwell on avoiding it. (I’ve done pretty well so far, not having caught flu for years because I follow the normal precautions.)
Here’s what the CDC recommends:
—Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. If you have no tissue, sneeze into your sleeve or the crook of your arm (elbow), not into your hands. (When you sneeze into your hands you transfer germs to them, and by touching other surfaces or people, you many transfer the germs to them.)
—Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective. Focus on your hands!They are the prime means by which you may contractor spread flu. Keeping your hands germ-free is the best thing you can do to avoid getting sick.
—Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way. Focus on your hands!
—Try to avoid close contact with sick people. Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people, who may transfer germs to their hands, then to you.
—If you get sick, try to avoid infecting others. Stay away from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. Isolate yourself as much as possible until you have been fever-free for a minimum of 24 hours.