With the holiday season just a few weeks away, there are fears that the swine flu will pick up right along with air travel. Now, officials in other countries may screen those traveling internationally from the United States as a precaution.
The Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration say, however, that such screenings are not taking place at travel hubs within America.
A warning from Flu.gov tells travelers:
"Due to the outbreak of H1N1 (Swine) flu occurring in the United States and many other countries, airport staff in some countries may check the health of arriving passengers. Travelers from the United States arriving in other countries may be checked for fever and other symptoms of H1N1 (Swine) flu, and their travel may be delayed."
The site says that when you travel internationally from the United States, officials in other countries may ask you to:
-Pass through a scanning device that checks your temperature. (The device may look like an airport metal detector, a camera, or a handheld device.)
-Have your temperature taken with an oral or ear thermometer
-Fill out a sheet of questions about your health
-Review information about the symptoms of H1N1 (Swine) flu
-Give your address, phone number, and other contact information
-Be quarantined for a period of time if a passenger on your flight is found to have symptoms of H1N1 (Swine) flu
-Contact health authorities in the country you are visiting to let them know if you become ill
In addition, the site says "If you have a fever or respiratory symptoms or are suspected to have H1N1 (Swine) flu based on screening, you may be asked to:
-Be isolated from other people until you are well
-Have a medical examination
-Take a rapid flu test (which consists of a nasal swab sample)
-Be hospitalized and given medical treatment, if you test positive for H1N1 (Swine) flu
"It feels a little bit overboard," Stanford, Conn. resident Derek Ferguson said. "I'm all for it, I really am," Mount Vernon resident Rosa Raspaldo said. "Because – guaranteed – if people are coughing on the plane, all of those germs will be spread around."
But the H1N1 virus isn't just a danger in the skies. Buses and trains can also be a breeding ground for germs. Millions of riders climb aboard every day, and that has many taking precautions."
I keep antiseptic in my purse and I use it all the time," said New York City resident Rose Donato.
Donato is a daily commuter, and says she isn't relying on others to take responsibility for her health.
"We're in Grand Central – I'm sure there are people that are sick and are walking around, and are spraying their germs all over the place," Donato said.
New York, along with other transportation agencies around the country, is posting signs reminding customers to keep their sneezes and coughs to themselves. It's common sense advice that doctors echo.
"Get vaccinated, wash your hands frequently, and you've really done the most that almost anybody can do to protect against influenza," Dr. Michael Phillips, of New York University's Langone Medical Center, said.
The first doses of swine flu vaccine arrived earlier this week, but new polls show that many people don't plan to get it. Flu shot or not, experts say that healthy habits will help make sure that, when you travel, germs don't take the trip with you.
If you have questions about the swine flu, check out our online resource guide here, including what you need for a swine flu survival kit. You can also check out information on screenings for travelers here.