John Hockenberry: This is The Takeaway, I'm John Hockenberry. Now we have a chance to put some of your questions that we've been having all morning, reacting to the outbreak of Swine flu in Mexico City, and outbreaks that have also been reported all around the world. Joining us is Rudy Maxa, host and Executive Producer of the PBS travel series Rudy Maxa's World. Rudy, thanks for joining us.
Rudy Maxa: Nice to be with you, John.
John Hockenberry: I suspect that you are not surprised that most of the questions come from travelers. People sitting, looking at their tickets, either traveling to or through Mexico, wondering what they should do. It's not a surprise, right?
Rudy Maxa: No, not a surprise at all. We certainly saw that several years ago with the outbreak of Bird flu in Asia.
John Hockenberry: Right, and SARS as well. Daren e-mailed us: "I'm supposed to go to Lima, Peru tonight, and then on to Santiago on Thursday. Both for work..." He's got a pretty narrow time horizon. "Should I cancel the trip?" Rudy?
Rudy Maxa: I don't think he should cancel it, no. There have been no cases in Peru, not that I know of. And I think we have to put this in perspective. As medical professionals just said, in fact on your show a few minutes ago, some warnings are a precautionary measure as opposed to an emergency. I mean, look at Mexico City, this is a city with 18 and a half million people in population. The odds of you changing planes in Mexico City or going there on a business or leisure trip and contracting Swine flu have to be infinitesimal. I mean, maybe you'll win the Powerball lottery before that. I don't make light of this, I'm just saying that the news is scary, the disease is scary, the potential is scary, but I'm also reminded, I was just doing some searches of clips and I noticed that back in the early 2000s, a medical specialist was saying that between 5 million and 150 million people may be killed in the course of a SARS epidemic. Well of course, the numbers barely reach four figures, so there is a little bit of--I call it the mistake of the central position, the thought that you of all people in a city of 18 million people will come down with the flu is, I think is greatly exaggerating your position in the world.
John Hockenberry: Right. Well, I suspect that if you would say, and Daren goes on to say that he actually has tamaflu, the anti-viral drug, and he wants to know if he should wear a mask on the plane. Quickly, you would say that those are going way overboard, right?
Rudy Maxa: Well, I can't advise on tamaflu. I, as they say, am not a doctor. And you know what? Look, if you are really afraid of this and a germophobe, and none of us want to get germs but they're all around us, all the time of course, go ahead and wear a mask. If it makes you feel better, what the heck. I mean, this is the basic stuff: Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, throw out that tissue when you use it, wash your hands with soap and water often, try to avoid close contact with sick people, and if you get sick with flu stay away from other people and go see a doctor. That's the basic advice from the California Department of Public Health, and it's good advice worldwide.
John Hockenberry: What's the travel industry doing to deal with people coming here from other places, either to reassure them or to take precautions, Rudy?
Rudy Maxa: I don't think they're doing anything yet, at least in the United States. However, countries like Indonesia and Japan and I'm guessing China, because even when there wasn't an outbreak of flu, China does this, you enter the country through airports and there are often detectors that will, as you literally walk through them, it's not a line like you do for security, you just walk through them as you're coming from the luggage carousel, and they will detect if you have an unusually high temperature, and if they detect that you'll be pulled aside and questioned.
John Hockenberry: Rudy, last second, are cruise ships still going to Mexico?
Rudy Maxa: They are, yes.
John Hockenberry: They are, so Debbie is going to feel very good, she has a honeymoon trip booked for her son and that can still go ahead. Thank you, Rudy Maxa, host and Executive Producer of Rudy Maxa's World, PBS series on travel.