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From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
June 16, 2004

New Definitions for Travel Notices Regarding Diseases Abroad

JAMA. 2004;291(23):2812. doi:10.1001/jama.291.23.2812-b

MMWR. 2004;53:414

The Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, Travelers' Health, National Center for Infectious Diseases, is announcing new, scalable definitions for travel notices about disease occurrences abroad. The purpose is to refine the announcements so they are more easily understood by international travelers, U.S. citizens living abroad, health-care providers, and the general public. In addition, defining and describing levels of risk will clarify the need for travelers to take recommended preventive measures.

From a public health perspective, scalable definitions will enhance the usefulness of the travel notices, enabling them to be tailored readily in response to events and circumstances. A complete description of the definitions and criteria for issuing and removing travel notices at each of the four levels is available at http://www.cdc.gov/travel.

The new notices are as follows:

In the News. This notice provides information about sporadic cases of disease or an occurrence of disease of public health concern affecting a traveler or travel destination. At this level, the risk for an individual traveler does not differ from the usual risk in that area.

Outbreak Notice. Information is provided regarding a disease outbreak in a limited geographic area or setting. The risk for travelers is defined and limited, and the notice reminds travelers about standard or enhanced travel recommendations such as vaccination.

Travel Health Precaution. Specific information is provided to travelers regarding a disease outbreak of greater scope and over a larger geographic area, aimed at reducing the risk for infection. This precaution also provides guidance to travelers about what to do if they become ill while in the area. At this level, CDC does not recommend against travel to a specific area, but might recommend limiting exposure to a defined setting (e.g., poultry farms or health-care facilities).

Travel Health Warning. A recommendation is issued against nonessential travel to an area because a disease of public health concern is expanding beyond the locales or populations that were affected initially. The purpose of a travel warning is to reduce the volume of traffic to affected areas, limiting the risk for spreading the disease to unaffected areas.