CDC downgrades Mexico travel warning

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dropped their recommendation Friday that U.S. travelers avoid Mexico because of the flu outbreak.

The Travel Health Warning recommending against non-essential travel to Mexico, which went into effect April 27, is "downgraded to a Travel Health Precaution for Mexico," the health agency said Friday in a bulletin on its website.

The update adds that "there is evidence that the Mexican outbreak (of the H1N1 virus infection) is slowing down in many cities, though not all. In addition, the United States and other countries are now seeing increasing numbers of cases not associated with travel to Mexico. Finally, the risk of severe disease from novel H1N1 virus infection now appears to be less than originally thought."

The CDC continues to suggest that those considered high risk "may want to consider postponing travel." That group includes pregnant women, children under 5, those 65 and older and people with chronic pulmonary or heart disease, or suppressed immune systems.

The CDC adds that Mexico is checking exiting airline passengers for signs of H1N1 flu, which may cause delays at airports there.

Vacationer Derek Brookmeyer, 26, of San Francisco, returned from Playa del Carmen, flying through Mexico City, on May 6. He feels fine.

"I definitely thought (flu fears) were overblown by the government and the media," he says. "When I went down, everyone was wearing a mask. It felt like I was walking into the Bubonic Plague. It was crazy."

"It's been very, very difficult. It really affects the people who work here and their families," says Rosewood Hotels & Resorts chief operating officer Bob Boulogne, calling from the Rosewood Mayakoba resort in Mexico's Riviera Maya.

"But it's going to take a mindset change among Americans to understand that there's no issue (with the flu) in the tourist areas (such as Riviera Maya and Cabo San Lucas). It's safe here."

The lifted travel warning is "exciting news" for the travel industry, says Caroline MacDonald, vice president of marketing for Auberge Resorts, which has a property called Esperanza in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. There have been no reported cases there, she says, "and we have been trying to communicate that" to worried folk with reservations.

"Clearly there has been a reluctance" to go to Mexico, she says. The CDC update "is a vote of confidence that it's safe to travel."

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