Guidance for Swine Flu, Illness and International Travel

May 1, 2009

Education and Preparedness are keys to safer international travel.

With the recent news about the H1N1 virus ("swine flu"), saturating the media, International Medical Group®, Inc. (IMG®), a worldwide leader in designing, distributing and administering global health care benefits, is addressing several calls from its concerned customers.

"Education and preparedness are the keys to providing Global Peace of Mind®," said Joseph Brougher, President of IMG. "Like any illness that someone may contract during travel, or read about before a planned trip, it´s important to take time to understand the true nature of the illness, including the symptoms and how it can be transmitted. While this particular virus is generating international press, it´s important to remain calm and stay well informed. We certainly don´t want to downplay its significance and our number one priority is the safety of our customers."

IMG´s URAC accredited, medical management service division, Akeso Care Management®, Inc. (ACM®), advised that there are some common sense tips that can better help someone prepare for a trip and possibly prevent illness while traveling. Its clinical staff noted that practicing good hygiene is one of the most important measures. Wash your hands, avoid close contact with others who are sick, cover your mouth and nose when coughing, and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth are all considered good standards of care and basic steps to avoiding illness. If you´re uncertain about your condition, ask your doctor.

The following additional travel tips were also added:

  1. Review travel warnings to see current warnings and recommended vaccinations for different countries. is a good informational Web site that posts such warnings and other travel tips.
  2. Keep your medicines with you at all times. Do not check them in your luggage and do not leave them out in the open in your hotel room.
  3. If you have to ask if you can drink the local water - don´t. Ice in your drink is probably made with the local water.
  4. Know your policy´s Emergency Travel Assistance number in case you need to report your medical problem. IMG has team members who are ready to assist its members 24/7, including arranging an air ambulance or a medical repatriation if necessary.

If treatment is needed outside of the U.S., IMG´s proprietary International Provider AccessSM (IPA) database, a network that includes more than 16,000 physicians and facilities, is available to its members. The network can be accessed via Internet and a user can search by physician, facility, specialty, or location.

"Anything can happen when you travel internationally and you must prepare for the unexpected," Brougher stated. "Having international medical insurance is a great start to a healthier trip."

Brougher mentioned IMG will continue to monitor the swine flu and the impact on the travel insurance industry, but in the meantime according to the World Health Organization (WHO), it does not recommend closing international borders and does not recommend any regular travel restrictions at this time.