In August, the Biden administration declared Monkeypox disease to be a public health emergency in the United States. The declaration acknowledges the severity and ongoing spread of the highly transmissible virus and will allow the CDC to develop additional strategies for distributing and administering the vaccine.
Okay, so what does this mean for travelers to the United States? What does it mean for American residents traveling internationally? Let’s find out.
What Is Monkeypox?
We’ll start with the basics. There’s a lot of misinformation going around about this disease so your best bet will always be to check with the CDC. But in simple terms monkeypox is a virus similar, though less severe, to smallpox. It’s typically transferred within the rodent or non-human primates communities but, as we’ve seen, it can be transferred to humans. It’s spread from close, skin-to-skin contact, especially if this contact is directly with the Monkeypox rash.
Like Covid, Monkeypox can also be spread through respiration, which is why it’s a good idea to wear a face mask in crowded areas. The science is still out on whether or not it can be transferred through other bodily fluids. The good news is that it is rarely fatal and there is a vaccine available.
The most common symptom people with Monkeypox have is a rash. Other common symptoms are similar to that of the flu. Always check with the CDC and see your doctor if you think you might have the virus.
How Does Monkeypox Impact Travelers?
If, when you think of the Monkeypox outbreak, your mind goes to the lockdowns, border closings and mandates we experienced with Covid, you can rest easy for now. Globally, there are no such plans in the works. However, it’s important to understand that this could change. Accessing both the Monkeypox vaccine and Monkeypox tests has been a challenge for many people globally. According to a recent article by NPR, containment efforts may fall short before the vaccine supply runs out. In this worst-case scenario, countries may be forced to implement border restrictions.
So, stay vigilant and up to date with the latest news. In terms of traveling the one key change you might like to consider is wearing face masks aboard planes, trains, and ships to avoid contracting and spreading the virus. Currently airlines don’t require masks for Monkeypox or Covid.
Monkeypox Travel Tips
There is no travel strategy that can guarantee you won’t get Monkeypox but there are certainly ways you can limit your exposure and risk. Here are some travel tips for Monkeypox.
Wear Face Masks
Yes, it’s true, we just said that. But it bears repeating. Because Monkeypox is transmissible through respiration, face masks may limit your chances of spreading the disease. A lot of our time is spent talking face to face. So if the person you’re talking to wears a face mask too, they reduce your chance of contracting it.
Break Out the Hand Sanitizer
Since this virus can be spread through skin-to-skin contact, it’s important to keep hand sanitizer with you when you travel. It helps keep you and everyone around you safer.
Wipe Down Plane Seats
Though scientists say it’s highly unlikely that you’ll contract the virus through plane, train or bus seats, it may give you more peace of mind if you wipe down your plane seat with a disinfectant wipe.
If You’ve Been Exposed, Isolate Yourself
Just as you would if you were exposed to Covid, if you’re exposed to Monkeypox while traveling, you’ll want to isolate yourself right away. You’ll also want to see a doctor as they can confirm an infection, and may be able to give you a post-exposure vaccine as well as any other medication that can help.
If You Have Monkeypox Avoid Travel
It can be a tremendous blow to have to cancel your plans due to contracting Monkeypox. Here you’ve been saving up and looking forward to the trip for months only to have to cancel at the last minute. While canceling your trip is far from ideal, it would be much worse to get on a plane. Not only are you endangering your fellow passengers, but also you’re putting your own health and well-being at greater risk.
If you’re an American resident traveling internationally, one way to take the sting out of canceling your plans is to buy trip insurance. It’s best to do this as soon as you book your flight and hotel accommodations. Most trip insurance plans will give you some reimbursement if you have to cancel due to a new illness (in this particular case, a new illness refers to an illness contracted after you brought the trip insurance policy).
If you’re seeing Monkeypox cases spike in the area you’re headed to, you might get understandably nervous about your travels. For Americans that have trip insurance with a Cancel For Any Reason add-on, canceling trip plans is easy. This benefit lets you cancel your trip for any reason and still recoup some financial losses related to prepaid travel expenses.
Ask about Monkeypox Sanitation Protocols
Whether you’re staying at a hotel or a vacation rental, it’s your right to ensure that the owner of the accommodation has cleaned towels and bed linens thoroughly. Again, the science says it’s highly unlikely that the disease will be transmitted through these surfaces, but when you’re on vacation, the one thing you’ll want above anything else is peace of mind.
Avoid Anyone with Symptoms
If you notice someone with a rash or any other symptom of Monkeypox, it’s best to stay away from them. Their rash could be totally unrelated to Monkeypox but, right now it’s best not to take any chances. If you suspect your loved one might have Monkeypox avoid all intimate contact with them. Once it’s clear that they haven’t contracted the virus you can reunite.
Keep up with Monkeypox Advisories from the CDC or WHO
When it comes to the Monkeypox virus, or any other virus for that matter, it’s always best to trust the experts. Whenever there’s a significant viral outbreak, these health agencies will have the most up-to-date and accurate information. This includes advisories and alerts. Currently, the CDC has a Monkeypox travel advisory system with three levels. Right now the CDC classifies the global threat of monkeypox at a Level 2 and recommends using enhanced precautions.
Get Travel Medical Insurance for International Travel
If you’re traveling internationally, your domestic healthcare won’t cover you. That’s why people need travel medical insurance. If you’re traveling to a country with a higher rate of Monkeypox, like the United States, travel insurance is important. Most plans can cover medical costs related to the virus as long as it was contracted after the policy start date. This can keep you from having to bring a large hospital bill home with you. The only drawback is that any prescriptions would likely have to be paid out of pocket. Travel medical insurance typically doesn’t cover prescriptions.
This is, of course, not an exhaustive list of things you can do to limit your exposure to Monkeypox, but it’s a good start. For a more comprehensive look at what you can do to reduce your risk of contracting the virus, please contact the CDC.
Monkeypox & Travel Insurance
Most travel medical insurance plans cover medical costs related to the Monkeypox virus as they would any new illness. For insurance purposes, a new illness is defined as any illness that was contracted between the policy effective dates. Remember to read the policy documents and plan details carefully before you make your purchase. You’ll want to make sure you understand what’s covered and what’s excluded. If you’re ready to buy travel insurance for Monkeypox through VisitorsCoverage or just have a few questions, our award-winning Customer Success Team of licensed travel insurance experts will be happy to help.