Road-Ready HealthWire for May 15, 2003
“Bits and Bobs*”
to Keep You Sane, Safe, and Healthy on the Go
Marlene R. Fedin, The Wellness Concierge®
In the News:
Advisories & Alerts; Russia Moves to Halt SARS' Spread;
Guidelines; Who's Going, Who's Staying;
SOS Offers Special SARS Evac Services; and more
Other Travel-Health News:
Carriers Add Air Bags; FAA Revises Passenger Weight Rules;
ISTM Survey:Travelers Risk Health, Safety; FA Cops to Drugging Child
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SARS UPDATES: SARS continues to
wreak havoc with the world of international business travel beyond the
round of flight cutbacks.
Travel Advisories and Alerts: In the last week, the CDC issued an interim
travel advisory to Mainland China and Hong Kong (May 8). At the same
time, the World Health Organization (WHO) lifted its international travel ban on Toronto, Canada,
(May 8) taking the city off its warning list. ...WHO extended a SARS
travel warning to Taiwan and to China's Tianjin and Inner Mongolia
provinces. ...On May 15, the CDC removed its travel alert for
Hanoi, Vietnam. The CDC had previously downgraded Hanoi from a "travel advisory" (which urges
travelers to refrain from nonessential travel to an area) to a
"travel alert," which advises travelers against traveling to an
area. It also downgraded Singapore to a travel alert on May 6.
...The infection rate is dropping in Beijing and Hong Kong but on the
rise in Taiwan. ...WHO has revised the SARS death rate to 15
percent, up from 6 to 10 percent. ...The WHO is recommending special
Russia Moves to Limit SARS Exposure: Russia is trying to limit its exposure to
SARS via air and land after its first case surfaced earlier this
month and has reportedly closed more than half of its border points with
China and Mongolia. Authorities are lobbying to halt all flights to
and from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan and have advised airlines that
fly to these destinations to
halt ticket sales.
Asia Times article, the Deputy Transportation Minister told the airlines
to "prepare for a possible suspension of all air service to China." At
the same time, the Health Minister indicated that Russia is
considering closing all its borders to China. "Only
Chinese citizens should be allowed to leave and only Russian citizens
should be allowed in," said Gennady Onishchenko.
In early May, Russia set up a 24-hour SARS hotline and medical
checkpoints at all city markets. ...
Former Soviet states were also taking action: On May 9,
Uzbekistan dropped all flights to China, Malaysia, and Thailand. Two
days earlier, Kazakh halted railway service and flights to China.
Other SARS-Related News: China
says it will execute anyone who causes death or injury by knowingly
...Macau, which had been thought to be SARS-free, reported its
first case on May 10. ...Exhibitors from China, Hong Kong,
Vietnam and Singapore were banned from attending the World Watch and
Jewelry Show, which was recently held simultaneously in Basel and
Zurich, although no ban was issued for tourists from those areas who
planned to shop the show.
...The CDC addresses concerns about exposure to travelers arriving in
the U.S. from SARS-infected regions in its
Guidance directive, which is a must-read document for meeting
planners and organizations who host foreign visitors from SARS-infected
areas for conferences, gatherings, or other meetings. The document
includes specific health-screening questions. FYI: The CDC is not
recommending that travelers returning from SARS-infected areas be
quarantined. ...A Qantas flight attendant suspected of having
SARS was released from a Sydney hospital after being given a clean bill
of health. ...The
International Civil Aviation Organization is recommending that all
passengers be screened for SARS before being permitted to board flights
from, or through, infected areas. ...With the memory of the chaos caused
by the Norwalk Virus still fresh in their minds, cruise lines such as
Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean Cruises have
new policies and procedures to
protect passengers from SARS.
Who's Going, Who's Staying: A recent
Travel Coalition survey (The fourth survey of SARS-related
travel-policy changes since April) of some 128 corporations found that
more than half (59%) have banned travel to global SARS hotspots.
The top three no-go
destinations? China (96%), Hong Kong (93%), and Singapore (81%). Some
33% have bans on Toronto. Most interesting: A majority of firms
(59%) required employees returning from Asia and other affected areas
to work from home for a period of time before heading back to the
office. ...The CDC offers its
to companies who have staffers returning to the U.S. after stays in
areas with SARS. ...In a survey conducted by the
Association of Corporate Travel Executives, 70% of the
responding business travel managers said they were axing Asian travel
because of concerns about SARS.
International SOS, one
of the top
membership companies providing global medical and security
assistance, is offering specially designed Portable Isolation Units
that allow SARS patients to be safely transported on the ground and
in the air. This
evacuation service fills a gap in current medical evacuation
services. As some travelers have discovered, even if you don't have SARS,
some med-evac firms are refusing to transport patients who are in, or
who have recently traveled to, areas with SARS outbreaks because
they cannot ensure appropriate protection for their staffs and
OTHER TRAVEL-HEALTH NEWS:
Where Travel-Prep Falls Dangerously Short:
Despite numerous on- an offline
travel-health resources, the growing threat of SARS and other serious
diseases, global wanderers are woefully uneducated about and unprepared for
the serious health risks they're likely to encounter according to a
recent survey. The International Society of Travel Medicine and
the European Travel Health Advisory Board
queried more than 8,000 travelers in 14 U.S., European, and
Asia-Pacific airports who were headed to Mexico, Africa,
Southeast Asia, and other areas known to have a high risk of infectious
diseases such as malaria and Hepatitis A. In what comes as no
surprise to travel-health professionals, large numbers (48% to 66%)
of survey participants worldwide admitted to not seeking appropriate
health advice or taking preventive measures prior to departure.
More than half of those traveling to areas with malaria (one of the more
serious health threats, according to WHO) were unaware of their risk
while an even higher percentage (from 69% to 83%) underestimated their
actual risk of contracting Hepatitis A.
The Flight Attendant Did It: A former Northwest FA has pleaded
guilty to assault charges on a 19-month-old baby. Daniel Cunningham
admitted to putting the prescription drug, Xanax, a depressant, into the
apple juice he gave a child in an effort to stop the child from crying
during a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit last August. The child, whose
mother noticed a funny appearance to the liquid, drank some but suffered
no health problems.
Northwest had nothing to say other than noting that it had cooperated
with authorities and dismissed Cunningham when it became aware of the
FAA Revises Weight Rules: The FAA has changed its eight-year-old
weight estimates, requiring airlines to add 10 pounds for each passenger
(and five pounds for each checked bag), bringing the total estimated
weight to 190 pounds per adult traveler.
Given the current obesity rates (over 50%) for Americans, the extra 10
pounds may not be enough to ensure that weight limits for airlines are
within safe limits. The new standards are temporary while the
FAA undertakes an in-depth study of passenger weights that will be used
to determine the permanent standard.
Airlines Add Air Bags—for Safety (Not Hygiene): Foreign carriers
such as Virgin Atlantic, Air Canada, and South African Airlink have
installed seatbelts with inflatable air bags
to reduce the risk of head and neck trauma in plane crashes or
accidents. The FAA-certified inflatable belts (manufactured by
Arizona-based AmSafe Aviation, the
world's largest seat-belt maker) are usually installed in seats located
behind galleys, bulkheads, and lavatories. AmSafe says it has sold 2,600
units to 13 air carriers.
Domestic carriers currently have no plans to install them, citing costs
(about $1,000 per unit) and maintenance problems as obstacles. (Trans
States and Atlantic Coast, two commuter airlines, have installed them on
the front seats of their 19-seat aircraft.)
Do Good (for Yourself), Win Big: If you've managed to heed expert
advice and are taking good care of yourself, consider entering Lean
Cuisine's "Do Something Good for Yourself" contest. Simply tell the food
company (in 250 words or less) about a "good thing" you've done for you
in the areas of fitness, nutrition, pampering, or life management.
Lean Cuisine will award 10 grand prizes that include a three-night stay
Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel in California; wellness forums featuring
experts such as Yoga master Rodney Yee. chef Art Smith, and professional
organizer Julie Morganstern; and roundtrip airfare for two. Entries must
be received no later than June 15, 2003.
Entries may be mailed to: "Do Something Good for Yourself" Contest, P.O.
Box 19680, Seattle, WA 98109-1680. Complete rules:
Serious About Losing Weight?
SupermarketGuru.com is looking for
volunteers for a
nutrition-based program. You could be one of 10 individuals to
receive free software and personalized nutrition advice as part of a
May is National Stroke Month: Know—and
Stroke is the third-leading cause of
death in the U.S. with someone suffering a stroke every 45 seconds. Despite the myth that
strokes hit only the elderly or those with vascular or circulatory
problems, a stroke can affect adults of all ages (as well as children). The
Association (888-4-STROKE) recommends learning the
warning signs, calling 911, and getting to a hospital as soon as
possible after the onset of symptoms to seriously reduce the risk of
death and long-term disability.
Deadly Denial: Baby boomers, whose
own stroke risk doubles as they approach age 55, seem to be in deep
denial (and poorly informed) when it comes to their own increased risk. A February 2003
American Stroke Association survey of boomers revealed that over one-third
of the respondents felt that they couldn't prevent a stroke while more
than half believed they were not at risk. Wrong and Wrong.
Want non-medicated relief from migraines
and less-severe headaches? Consider
acupressure strips. Some folks swear that applying the tiny
strips to the ear and squeezing them off and on for about a half hour
can bring relief. (Five in a package; available in
drugstores or by
877-321-BEAD; e-mail: email@example.com)
about working out on the go? Consider Michael Sena's "Traveling
Trainer" kit from Relax the Back ($49.95; 800-222-5728). The strapped carrying case conveniently includes
three exercise tubes (available in different thicknesses based on your
level: beginner, intermediate, or advanced); a door anchor; exercise
video and instructional guide; diner's guide; and a workout program. All
you have to do is unpack and work out.
TIP: Take a moment to check out
Relax the Back's savvy and helpful advice on posture and
taking care of your back on the go.
Stock Up on Global Favorites: Running low on your prized
international health and wellness remedies now that you aren't
traveling to England, France, Italy, or the Far East?
The 165-year-old, European-style Manhattan-based apothecary
scours the globe for the best
personal care products. Its
eclectic product assortment most
likely includes your special throat lozenges, toothpaste and
toothbrushes, body and lip balms, moisturizers, oils, and other personal
care products, as well as homeopathic remedies and essential oils.
Savvy New Yorkers (and visitors) and product
junkies have long shopped its West Village store, trolling for old
favorites and new items. But it's luxe catalog and Web site make it easy
for anyone to sample the likes of Strepsils Lozenges (a European
bestseller); Penguin Mints (The caffeinated version offers a quick
pick-up when you can't down a cup of java.); Vocal Zone Pastilles (A
favorite of singers and speakers who want to keep their nose and throat
clear.); Smith's Rosebud skin and lip salve; Marvis' flavorful
toothpastes; and the wonderful Badger Balm product line. (414 Sixth Avenue; 800-793-5433)
Feeling Queasy? Try Some Ginger Snaps
No, not the cookies. Opt for St.
Claire's certified organic candies, available in a
travel-sized tin or pocket pack. Aside from their
anti-nausea properties, the ginger and molasses tablets
are tasty and fat-, gluten-, casein-, GMO-, and dairy-free. They're also
made without artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, and animal
by-products. ($1.00 to $3.49 at
health food stores such as Wild Oats and Whole Foods; 877-684-5195;
is compiled from medical and scientific journals and related
professional publications, which have vetted the research data that they
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