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putting travel advisory warnings in perspective: North America

We've had plenty of threads here discussing how seriously to take official cautions and travel advisories from various gov'ts and agencies and bodies, so it was an eyebrow-raiser to me to get a warning message last evening from WorldCue Alert at their Global Control Center with subject line "Info Alert - North America - Monkeypox Upd. 5 - Health"

The message says it covers the following locations
Canada
Mexico
United States

and among the advice the message gives is "Avoid overcrowded areas, such as nightclubs"

It cites recent US CDC factsheets about monkeypox, and certainly recognizes that cases are confirmed 'in certain areas' in the countries mentioned, but I can't help but remark that if you took the warning at face value, you would think twice before traveling to Canada, Mexico, or the USA, and if you did go, you would do well to stay out of the nightclubs.

I don't know whether to end with the shrug emoji or the ~sigh~ emoji. Maybe both?

Posted by
109 posts

With all travel advisory warnings, I try to look at the facts on the ground. I look at the local news and contact people I know in the area, if possible. I tend to follow people/groups on social media from the area of interest. So I get a good idea of what to expect.

I also look at the travel warnings from other countries too. What does the UK, Australia, or France warn their citizens about the region of interest? What are they advising their citizens about the places I want to visit? I also consider the social and political issues that caused those warnings in addition to the health issues.

Posted by
366 posts

The Canadian government 's travel advisory for United States includes an Active Shooter Advisory.

Sadly this is endemic in America.

Posted by
1696 posts

Canada is a HUGE country. I remember during the original SARS epidemic, there were cases in Toronto, and my husband was involved with an international student summer program here in Calgary. The overseas organizers almost cancelled because of it. But Calgary is around 2000 miles from Toronto (a 32-hour drive or a 4-hour flight).

Although we do have cases of Monkeypox here in Alberta, it makes as much sense to put a warning on all of Canada because of a disease outbreak as it does to put a warning on Norway because of an outbreak in Portugal.

Posted by
5261 posts

I think it’s important to be aware of travel advisories, but it’s more important to become informed by doing research about whatever the advisory/warning is about.

In this case, it’s Monkeypox, a rare disease which has been endemic mainly in central and western African countries for several years.

However, recently there has been a very significant increase in confirmed (reported) cases, according to information from CDC
( Data as of August 4, 2022):

26,519
In countries that have not historically reported monkeypox

Compared to:

345 In countries that have historically reported monkeypox

Case in point. The advisory you received:

The message says it covers the following locations

Canada

Mexico

United States

But looking at the CDC data, the countries with more than 1000 confirmed cases are actually the following:

  • United States ( > 7K)
  • Spain (> 4K)
  • Germany ( >2K)
  • United Kingdom ( > 2K)
  • France ( > 2k)
  • Brazil ( > 1K)

However, Canada has reported 890 cases, and Mexico has reported 91.
(according to CDC data, as of August 4, 2022)

And the advise to “Avoid overcrowded areas, such as nightclubs", is vague, IMHO.

It’s best to become informed as to how this virus is transmitted, and to avoid situations where the risk of becoming infected is highly likely to occur.

My two cents…

Posted by
8658 posts

I dont see that as a "warning". As far as I can tell, the wording that was quoted is "info alert", that is, providing information that many if not most un-savvy travelers would not be aware of. Not a "danger, stay away" warning - enter at your own risk. We've become so used to reacting to any kind of such language as if its advising against any and all travel instead of just recognizing that its just information. Process it yourself to determine your individual risk. Nobody's going to be tracking you.

Posted by
5261 posts

Well said, Stan, thanks!

We've become so used to reacting to any kind of such language as if its advising against any and all travel instead of just recognizing that its just information. Process it yourself to determine your individual risk. Nobody's going to be tracking you.

Janis,
Thanks for sharing the public health information for WA, it’s very informative and
comprehensive.
Every state and many counties have their own public health department, and for the most part, do a good job of keeping the community informed.

Posted by
3961 posts

Thanks Priscilla. ;) I ditto what Stan reported as well! Thanks Stan.