The demands of work and family don't always allow us to control when or where we have to travel.
Being prepared and staying alert can help reduce your risk of infection. Protect yourself with the following instructions:
Monitor your destination's situation before you go and while you're there. Start by visiting frequently updated websites from reliable organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov), the World Health Organization (www.who.int), and the Pan American Health Organization (new.paho.org).
Get vaccinated. Be sure you have the right immunizations. Be aware that some vaccinations require multiple doses and must be started weeks before your departure date.
Know your health care options. Identify health care providers and hospitals in the area you'll be visiting. And make sure all your routine vaccinations, including seasonal influenza vaccine, are up-to-date before you leave home. Talk to your doctor about whether the preventive use of antiviral drugs may be right for you.
Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands often with water and soap or hand gels containing at least 60 percent alcohol. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then put the tissue in the trash. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve.
Be aware of how you feel. If you develop a fever, sore throat, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, or other concerning symptoms, see a doctor immediately. Avoid contact with other people while ill. If you're ill before traveling, delay your plans. Stay home from school or work if you become ill once you return.
Stay home for the holidays if you're sick. If you or a family member has symptoms of flu or other illness, consider spending the holidays at home. You shouldn't travel until at least 24 hours after all symptoms are gone. Some airports screen people for certain flu symptoms, such as fever, and your travel may be delayed if you show these symptoms.
Keep sick holiday visitors from spreading germs. The holidays often bring many family members and friends together under one roof, but germs can spread easily this way. If symptoms of flu or other illness show up while you are visiting relatives or friends, urge the sick person to avoid others and use a private room and bathroom if possible.
For additional guidance from the CDC, visit: www.cdc.gov/travel.