Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Should I get a swine flu shot if I'm traveling to a country with high instances of swine flu?"
I am going to Egypt in a few weeks. Should I get a shot anyway?
Although swine flu has potential to contribute to a worldwide influenza pandemic, avian influenza is more common. Egypt has had several reported cases of avian flu during recent months, and you are wise to consider this infection prior to traveling. The current CDC and WHO guidelines are to get a seasonal influenza vaccine prior to travel (it incorporates the most common strands found during each flu season). You should also avoid poultry farms, wild birds, dead birds, bird fluids/droppings, bird markets, and poultry/eggs that have not been completely cooked. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or alcohol-based sanitizer. Cover your mouth with a tissue or your upper arm when you sneeze or cough. If you develop symptoms of influenza, such as fevers, cough, shortness of breath, or muscle pains, then you should see a doctor or call the US embassy quickly to see if you would benefit from antiviral therapy. And of course, it is always a good idea to be evaluated by a travel medicine specialist prior to travel to determine what other vaccines and prophylactic medications may be recommended.
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