Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

UA to students, staff: Avoid ‘nonessential’ travel to Mexico

Faced with a growing number of confirmed cases of swine flu in the U.S., the University of Arizona has recommended that students, staff and faculty avoid all “nonessential” travel south of the border.

Paul Allvin, associate vice president, university communications, said UA is not defining what is nonessential travel.

“It is up to each person who needs to travel to Mexico to decide if it is absolutely something they must do,” Allvin said.

“And then, if they feel it is essential, they need to monitor their health,” Allvin said.

An advisory was posted on the UA Web site Monday afternoon saying travel is discouraged in light of recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If UA community members choose to travel to Mexico, the advisory asked for caution upon return to Tucson.

“Out of concern for their own health and for the health of those with whom they live and work, UA faculty, staff or students who choose to travel to Mexico are expected to monitor their health closely for seven days following their return,” it read.

The advisory also offered flu prevention measures, based on tips from the CDC and the World Health Organization, Allvin said.

“Wash your hands, cover your mouth if you sneeze or cough and stay away from others if you feel sick,” he said. “We’re bombarding the campus with that message. . . . We want to make people aware without alarming them.”

Allvin said doctors at University Medical Center and Campus Health Services are “monitoring very closely” the students who might come in complaining of illness.

“We will be taking our lead from the county Health Department. But we’re certainly on the lookout for any students who look ill.”

Meanwhile, other UA officials are trying to catalog the different connections students, staff or faculty might have in Mexico, Allvin said.

The UA Outreach College and the College of Agriculture follow most of the cross-border research, Allvin said, but UA is also concerned with UA students who are from Mexico, UA study abroad students in Mexico and students, faculty and staff who have relatives south of the border.

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