Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine Flu Pandemic Phase Increased to Level 5

The WHO increased the Pandemic Phase Level to a phase 5 on Wednesday, April 29, 2009. A phase 5 alert means there is sustained transmission among people in at least two countries. The WHO is coordinating the global response to human cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) and monitoring the corresponding threat of an influenza pandemic.

“Influenza pandemics must be taken seriously precisely because of their capacity to spread rapidly to every country in the world,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General, “All countries should immediately activate their pandemic preparedness plans. Countries should remain on high alert for unusual outbreaks of influenza-like illness and severe pneumonia.”

MSNBC explains what level 5 means for society by stating “The change to a level 5 alert has little meaning for people living in the U.S. This country is already doing almost everything possible to track the spread of the virus, treat the victims and try to develop a vaccine. This is much more of an alert to other countries to start their own preparations for when the virus arrives.” If a Phase 6 would be declared, it would mean a global epidemic of a new and deadly disease.

Those planning to follow through with travel plans should take extreme caution. Vice President Biden stated to reporters that he would not advise his own family to travel by plane or subway as the air circulates through the craft and spreads germs quickly. Non-essential travel should be avoided.

The United States Government has reported 91 laboratory confirmed human cases, with one death as of the end of the day on April 29, 2009. According to the CDC and USA Today, ten U.S. states that have confirmed cases of the swine virus which include Arizona, California, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New York, Ohio and Texas.

According to the Baltimore Sun, Maryland is reporting 6 likely cases in Anne Arundel and Baltimore Counties. Confirmation the illnesses are swine flu have yet to be confirmed by the CDC. All 6 people had links to people who have traveled to Mexico.

The Univeristy of Delaware has 10 probable cases of swine flu. It was reported yesterday that ten students were experiencing mild flu-like symptoms. The students have been tested for the swine flu virus and are awaiting results to confirm that it is in fact the virus.

According to the WHO, the following countries have reported laboratory confirmed cases with no deaths - Austria (1), Canada (13), Germany (3), Israel (2), New Zealand (3), Spain (4) and the United Kingdom (5).

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swine Flu Claims first life in US

We are sad to hear that the US has had its first death attributed to Swine Flu, a 2 year old child in Texas.

You can find more information about the progression of Swine Flu here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


On day 2 of our coverage of the Swine Flu outbreak we, unfortunately, have to report that the number of cases has gone up. The confirmed Swine Flu cases now span 7 countries. The death toll in Mexico is upwards of 150! So far no deaths have been reported in any other country and health officials are investigating why the numbers are so much higher in Mexico. President Obama says this outbreak is cause for concern, but not alarm.

The WHO has raised the Pandemic alert level to 4 out of 6. All nonessential travel to Mexico is discouraged by the CDC. All those who MUST travel to Mexico, the CDC urges you to make sure you have antiviral medications like Tamiflu or Relenza. The prescription meds fight against swine flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in the body.

Monday, April 27, 2009


As luck (UN-luck is more like it) would have it there has been an outbreak of Swine Flu in Mexico, which is the country that you chose to hear about as our next featured "country of the month." We will post today with respect to the current outbreak of Swine Flu.

What the WHO is saying:
The World Health Organization has declared the swine flu outbreak in
North America a "public health emergency of international concern".
The decision means countries around the world will be asked to step up
reporting and surveillance of the disease implicated in dozens of
human deaths in Mexico and at least 40 non fatal cases in the USA. WHO
fears the outbreak could spread to other countries and is calling for
a coordinated response to contain it. more from WHO

What the CDC is saying:
CDC is working very closely with officials in states where human cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) have been identified, as well as with health officials in Mexico, Canada and the World Health Organization. This includes deploying staff domestically and internationally to provide guidance and technical support. CDC has activated its Emergency Operations Center to coordinate this investigation. more from CDC

What Passport Health Suggests:
Use the common sense approach to avoiding swine flu:
  • Practice good basic hygiene in daily life
  • Avoid travel to regions where swine flu has been detected
  • Avoid large crowds and leave crowds if you observe someone who is symptomatic
  • If you are symptomatic, stay at home away from large crowds and your workplace
  • The wearing of a surgical mask is recommended when in areas where the Swine Flu has been detected and when traveling on airplanes
  • When you cough or sneeze, if you do not have a tissue available cough into your arm, not your hand. Use of hot water and soap and alcohol sanitizers are proven methods to avoid transmission of the virus.
  • If you are traveling to flu endemic areas and it has been more than 3-4 months since your last flu shot – it is recommended that you receive an additional immunization to boost your immune system.
Visit Passport Health on the web at for more information.

Check out these videos:

Friday, April 24, 2009

Egypt: How to get around.

You've safely arrived in Cairo…
… Now what??

As Egypt’s capital and also the largest city in Africa, Cairo has a lot to offer. There is never a dull moment when you have such a variety of places to visit. There is Old Cairo with the famous Hanging Church or also the Ben Ezra Synagogue, Islamic Cairo with its bazaars and ancient mosques. Just outside the city you find the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid of Giza. But how do you get to those places? Here are some helpful tips that will make the “getting around” part of your trip a little easier.

You have several options when traveling within the city of Cairo. One would be simply to walk, another is taking a taxi, or even the Metro is an alternative.

Getting to the attractions within the heart of the city is your best bet. Make sure you have a map with you and if you are female, be aware of the extra attention you may get.

Hailing a cab is possible from about every street corner in Cairo. It is a very cheap and easy method to get around within the city.

Here are some helpful tips:
  • The meters don’t work, so agree on the price before you get in the cab
  • Single men sit in the front, single women sit in the back
  • Quite frequently the cab driver will pick up other passengers on the way, so don’t be alerted
  • Keep small notes on you so you can pay the exact amount when you get out of the cab
  • Hold on and thank the stars that you don’t have to drive!!!

Please see this video and be thankful for cabs…

Another option that you have is to ride the Metro. Cairo has the only metro system in Africa. It’s reliable, cheap and convenient.

Good Luck!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Egypt: Food

Egyptian food has changed over the years due its melting pot history and the influences from various countries such as Greece, Turkey, Syria and Lebanon. It is well known that the ancient Egyptians loved food as large feasts and symbols of food are depicted all over the ancient Egyptian walls and temples. Bread, beer and salted fish were most commonly eaten by ancient Egyptians.

Today, Egyptian-style food is comprised mostly of bread, rice and beans. Meat is considered a luxury and used sparingly in small amounts and cooked with vegetables. Chicken and Lamb are the most commonly eaten meats. Hamaam (Pigeon) is considered a delicacy in Egypt, but beware, it is often served with its head attached and buried in stuffing.

If you are traveling on a tight budget it is a good thing food in Egypt is inexpensive. Most of the high end restaurants are located in nice hotels. For a more authentic trip, eat like the Egyptians eat and amerce yourself in their culture. Below are some tips on daily eating in Egypt… Egyptian-style!

Breakfast typically consists of beans, eggs, pickles, cheeses and jams. It is a light meal. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day, like most European countries, and is followed by a siesta. This meal is likely to start around 2pm-5pm or if eating in a restaurant between 1pm-4pm. Dinner is another light meal typically consisting of leftovers from lunch or a sandwich. Dinner is served between 8pm-midnight!

Snack Bars:
Snack bars are little stands that run along the streets of Egypt and many Egyptians choose to eat from for any meal of the day. It is the most “real” way to eat like an Egyptian. They resemble a fast-food type stand and are a quick and inexpensive way to grab a traditional meal. Beware that health standards in Egypt are not the same as they are in the US, so research your food stands carefully before eating anything from them. These stands are very crowded around meal times.

Traditional Foods/dishes:
• Pita bread is popular and is eaten at any meal and made into sandwiches for lunch
• Ful beans (bean paste) This is the most commonly eaten bean and the paste made from it is used in everything. For breakfast it is boiled with veggies, mashed with onions, tomatoes and spices and served with eggs. This similar paste is used to stuff pita bread and make a sandwich and for dinner is often made into patties and deep fried.
• Kushari- macaroni, lentils, chick peas, chili sauce, onions and bean paste mixed together make this very traditional and almost famous Egyptian dish.
• Fatayeer- Pancakes made with different fillings.
• Muzagga- The Egyptian form of Greek Moussaka.
• Desserts are usually drenched in honey syrup and are very very sweet!

Please remember to be careful while enjoying the various flavors and cuisines Egypt has to offer. It might be a good idea to start slow before diving into all the eclectic foods Egyptians are accustomed to eating. Always drink bottled water that has an un-cracked seal. Also, if you can peel it, you can eat it. Try to stick to that rule when eating fruits. Additionally, make sure your foods are thoroughly cooked and hot before eating.

Keep in mind Passport Health is a great resource to purchase a water filtration kit and diarrhea kits to help ease the tummy troubles.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Meningitis vaccine can save lives!

March 25, 2009 is World Meningitis Day.

Please join us in raising awareness of this deadly yet PREVENTABLE disease.

A simple vaccine could have prevented the tragic stories below.

Ryan's Story

Yolanda's Story

Cameron's Story

In honor of World Meningitis Day, Passport Health corporate office in Baltimore, MD is extending walk-in hours and a discounted visit fee for all people interested in getting a Meningitis shot. Visit for location information.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Egypt: Hotels and Hostels

Although you will be busy checking out all the attractions of Egypt during the day, finding a home away from home to rest your feet after a long day of sight-seeing is important too.

Knowing what you are looking for in a hotel and researching various hotels in Egypt can actually enhance your trip and save you money as some hotels offer complimentary breakfasts, swimming pools, restaurants, bars, transportation and staff who will schedule tours for you!

All these extra amenities that save time and money will be useful when you are planning your budget, especially a meal budget. It also makes the trip more enjoyable when you stay somewhere that has a friendly/helpful staff, clean living quarters and a great location! Reading the travelers reviews are often one of the best ways to get an honest opinion.

The two most popular cities in Egypt for tourists are by far Cairo and Luxor. Below are some hotels and hostels in each city that range from different prices and star quality to meet the needs of every traveler. It is important to do your research before you go because you may find a great deal!


  • Pyramid Suites Hotel and Casino- 3 star hotel that overlooks the Nile and is within walking distance of the sights.
  • Sofitel Le Sphinx- 5 star hotel located at the foot of the pyramids. Can get pricey between October-May. Best bang for your buck in the off season!
  • Siag Pyramids Hotel- An inexpensive hotel that is great for hosting young travelers.
  • Wake Up!- Named one of the best hostels in Cairo and is recommended in many guide books. An excellent stay for backpackers and young travelers alike!

El Gezira:
  • Sofitel el Gezirah- 4 star hotel that has been recently refurbished and in great location to the sites and Nile River.

  • Marriott Cairo Hotel and Casino- 5 star hotel that is the best in the area. A little pricey, but a good deal considering all the hotel has to offer its clients.

  • Sonesta St. George Hotel- 4 star hotel at a price that won’t break your budget. The hotel is situated at the banks of the Nile.
  • Mercure Luxor Hotel- 4 star hotel with great views of the Nile and Gardens, free breakfast and will leave extra money for souvenirs.
  • Nubian Oasis Hostel- A hostel that comes highly recommended by travelers and guide books alike. A place for travelers with a tighter budget but finer tastes.

Be sure to stay somewhere close to the attractions you want to see as there are great hotels at accommodating price ranges in all the major cities.

Save the surprises of the trip for the attractions, research the hotels!

Here is a helpful site that offers an overview of the company, photos, maps and nightly rates.

Friday, April 17, 2009

World Meningitis Day

World Meningitis Day is April 25th, 2009.

There are several organizations whose goal is to increase the awareness of Meningitis. Here are two of the websites that we thought are well worth a look:

What is Meningitis and what are the symptoms?
Meningococcal disease is an acute bacterial infection characterized by sudden onset with fever, intense headache, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, and frequently, a rash with pink macules that develops petechiae. (

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, travelers to sub-Saharan Africa may be at risk for meningococcal disease. Individuals that plan to travel to countries in the meningitis belt during the dry season are strongly advised to get the meningococcal vaccine. This is especially recommended for travelers that will have prolonged contact with local populations.

The vaccination against meningitis is not a required for travelers to any country except for Saudi Arabia, where travelers to Mecca, during the annual Hajj pilgrimage, must show proof of vaccination.

Check the CDC Travelers’ Health Website for updated advisories for travelers as they will be issued when epidemics of meningitis are reported.

The following video provides a true story of how Meningitis can affect even the healthiest.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Egypt: Currency

The Egyptian currency is the Egyptian Pound (EGP).
  • 1 EGP = 100 piastres
  • Notes are in denominations of EGP 200, 100, 50, 20, 5, 1, 50 piastres and 25 piastres
  • Coins are in denominations of 25, 20, 10, and 5 piastres
  • $1= 5.627 EGP (Rate as of 4/7/2009)
Check for a more accurate exchange rate close to your travel date.

ATM Guide
  • ATMs can be found in any major city in Egypt
  • Your bank card should have a FOUR digit pin code
  • Different bank ATMs in Egypt accept different cards, some take MasterCard, others Visa, some take both
  • ATMs provide money in Egyptian Pounds at the day’s exchange rate plus a small exchange fees

Credit Cards
Amex, Visa, MasterCard and Diners Club are widely used throughout Egypt. However, if you are traveling away from popular tourist areas, credit cards are far less common. You may be charged a percentage fee of the sale (between 3% and 10%).

Always keep receipts to compare with your statements once you are back at home.

International Money Transfer
Western Union, the specialist in international money transfer, operates together with “Misr America International Bank” and IBA business centers in Egypt.

Money Changers
Money can be officially changed at Thomas Cook and Amex offices, commercial banks, foreign exchange (forex) bureaus and even at some hotels.
Most hard currencies can be changed in Egypt, though US Dollars are easiest to switch out. It is also possible to change your leftover Egyptian Pounds back into US Dollars at the end of the trip. Most banks, forex bureaus, Thomas Cook offices and also Amex facilities will be able to help you with that.

Be Safe!
Wonder how to keep your money safe while traveling? Here are some helpful tips:
  • Keep an extra credit card in a lockbox at your hotel
  • Let your bank know that you will be traveling internationally
  • Always try and keep small bills and coins handy for tips and handouts
  • Carry money, credit cards, and important travel documents in a secured pouch close to your body
Visit your Passport Health Location for our popular travel accessories such as the Loop Wallet and the Waist Security Pouch.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Egypt: Language Barriers

When traveling to another country, there are enough things to worry about in regards to what to pack, what do I want to do while I am there, do I need to get any travel immunizations, how much money do I need to save, who will feed my hamster while I am gone, etc. Traveling to a country where the language is unfamiliar is another concern to add to the list of worries.

Be prepared and know what to expect regarding language barriers. Do not expect to go to Egypt and have all the locals speaking perfect English. The major native language, spoken by 68% of the population, is Egyptian Arabic. The minority languages spoken that make up the rest of the population are various versions of Arabic dialect.

The main foreign languages of Egypt happen to be English and French while the main immigrant languages include Greek and Armenian. Like most countries, English is spoken by many people in major touristy areas. French is commonly spoken in big tourist areas as well.

Learning a few phrases in the local language will help you get around town. Also, being able to communicate with the local population will enrich and enhance your travel experience. If you are spending more than a week in a country, it might be helpful to buy a phrasebook. It might also be useful to by an Arabic/English dictionary to assist with other language issues you may have such as ordering food, asking how much something costs, trying to get directions somewhere or simply trying to hail a cab.

It might also be useful to look up some non-verbal communication gestures that may be appropriate or inappropriate to use in Egypt. For example, the left hand is considered unclean, so always use your right hand when offering an Egyptian a gift or shaking hands. Also, showing the soles of your shoes is considered offensive in Egyptian culture; always sit with both feet on the floor. Lastly, don’t be worried if you see a lot of Egyptian men holding hands in public. This gesture is considered a sign of friendship!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Eqypt: Meningitis

Though it is not a recommended vaccine for travel to Egypt, it is very important to think about the risk of Meningitis. In most developed countries, Meningitis is not as big a problem as it can be in underdeveloped areas.

Egypt is not included in the meningococcal belt but it is just one country away so we wanted to take this opportunity to give you a little warning about Meningitis and how to ensure you are protected.

Meningitis is entirely preventable with a vaccination.

Check back with us soon, because we will be posting more information about Meningitis in preparation for World Meningitis Day.

April 25th, 2009 is World Meningitis Day.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Egypt: Staying Safe

The best way to stay safe while traveling is to know about your surroundings. When entering a new and different environment and culture it is very important to be aware of the social, economic, political, and religious issues that are currently making news in the country to which you decide to travel. Especially if it involves tourists.

Islam is practiced by the majority of Egyptians and governs their personal, political, economic and legal lives. Among certain obligations for Muslims are to pray five times a day - at dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset, and evening. The exact time is listed in the local newspaper each day. Friday is the Muslim holy day. Everything is closed. Many companies also close on Thursday, making the weekend Thursday and Friday. Be aware of your wardrobe when visiting holy places of worship.

When out in public, do your best to not draw attention to the fact that you are an outsider. Keeping your money and legal documents in a security pouch worn close to the body, not wearing any visible jewelry, and not being laden with more bags and purchases than you can easily carry in one hand are the best ways to secure your own safety in Egypt.

Business in Egypt is done differently than it is in the USA. Bargaining and bartering are often an acceptable way to do business and you must be very careful when negotiating prices. Even a camel ride can end up costing you much more than you bargained for!

For more security tips and the most up-to-date travel risks in Egypt you can visit the Department of State.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Egypt: How do you get there?

Whether or not you travel to your destination via plane, road or ship, you need to know how to get there safely!

Getting to Egypt by Air:
Depending on where your trip takes you in Egypt, there are 2 major airports to consider:

Cairo International, located about 14 miles from Cairo
Luxor Airport, located about 4 miles from Luxor

Cairo International Airport (CAI)
When you leave the airport you have different options available.
  • There are taxis outside the main arrivals hall. It is about a 45 minutes ride from the airport into central Cairo.
  • Airport shuttle buses are available and a convenient way to get from the airport to downtown Cairo.
  • Car rental companies available at CAI include Avis, Budget, Europcar and Hertz.

However, driving in Cairo should be avoided. If you still decide to get a rental car, you have the option to hire a personal driver along with the car to get around the city safely.Facilities at the airport include a restaurant and several cafeterias, banks and ATMs, bureau de change, pharmacies, and an Internet café.

For more information go to

Luxor International Airport (LXR)
When leaving the airport, the best way to get to the city is by taxi. However, there is also a regular bus service available as well as the option to get a rental car. Airport facilities at LXR include restaurants, shops, bureau de change, and a post office.

For more information go to

Getting to Egypt by Water:
Main ports in Egypt are Alexandria, Nuweiba, Port Said and Suez.
Many cruise ships stop over in Egypt as part of their African itinerary.

Getting to Egypt by Road:
The road border between Libya and Egypt is open. There are two border crossings between Israel and Egypt: one runs from Cairo via El Arish to Rafiah on the north Sinai coast; and the other from Cairo via Suez and Taba to Eilat.

Passengers in taxis and hired cars are not permitted to cross the borders between Israel and Egypt.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Egypt: Short History and Cultural Vocabulary

If Egypt is on your list of places to visit, it is likely you are going to add sight seeing to your activities; seeing all the structures and ancient Egyptian pyramids to be specific. Enhance your experience by learning about the cultural history behind these landmarks before you travel.

Here are some characteristics of ancient Egyptian culture to review before your trip and some other interesting facts about Egypt’s past:

Cultural Vocabulary:
  • Pharaoh- The term used to represent the rulers of ancient Egypt.

  • Egyptian pyramids- The Egyptian pyramids are the most famous pyramids in the world. They are constructed of brick and stone and were entirely made by hand. The largest pyramid is the Great Pyramid of Giza. As of 2008, 138 pyramids have been discovered in Egypt. The pyramids is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Currently, Egypt has the most pyramids in the world.

  • Mummies- The ancient Egyptians believed that when a Pharaoh died, his spirit remained in his body and if his corpse was not properly taken care of after death, he could not fulfill his duties as king of the afterlife. To avoid this, the Egyptians mummified and preserved the body.

  • Tombs- To protect the Pharaohs’ body and soul , the Egyptians would build massive tombs, some in the shape of pyramids.

  • Hieroglyphs- Hieroglyphs was a formal writing and numbering system of the ancient Egyptians. They consist of logographic and alphabetic elements.

  • Sphinx- A mythological statue that has the body of a lion and the head of a human. The Sphinx of Giza is the most famous and is located near the pyramids in Egypt.

Some other interesting and historical information about Egypt includes how ancient Egypt consisted of approximately thirty one Dynasties. The conclusion of the thirty first dynasty led to the Ptolemaic Dynasty which hosted some of the famous characters of ancient Egypt including Alexander the Great and Queen Cleopatra of Egypt.

Ancient Egypt was mostly ruled by Egyptian Pharaohs, however, around the twenty seventh dynasty the Persians overtook Egypt soon to be followed by a long 2,400 years of foreign rule. Some other foreign rulers that ruled Egypt in the past were the Romans, the Byzantines, the Ottomans, the French and the British to name a few.

Below is a great site that offers historical, private tour packages by knowledgeable guides and packages can be customized according to tourist!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Egypt: What do I pack?

Due to the hot climate in Egypt, loose and light cotton clothing is highly recommended. Especially in the summer time, your choice of clothing is essential to your well-being on your trip.

Egypt is a predominantly Muslim country and therefore it is recommended to be considerate of its people and their culture and dress conservatively. When visiting tourist attractions such as churches or mosques, women as well as men should not wear shorts or short-sleeve shirts. In fact it is highly advised for women not to wear anything short or sleeveless in public. Unless you are at the beach or poolside, you should consider wearing clothes that cover most of your body. You may also want to bring a headscarf when visiting religious sites. Many of the native Egyptians are used to tourists and their varying wardrobe choices, but it is important to respect the culture in which you are traveling.

Key Items that should be on your Checklist:
  • plenty of sunscreen
  • sun hat or other covering (head scarf for women)
  • sunglasses
  • eye drops (it can get very dusty)
  • comfortable walking shoes
  • a filtered water bottle (staying hydrated is important on your trip)
  • power adapters (make sure your electronics are compatible)
  • traveler guides/ maps
  • a camera

… And don’t forget stop at Passport Health to pick up your prescription for preventive malaria medication, a malaria kit which includes appropriate repellents containing DEET, as well as a kit for traveler’s diarrhea including antibiotics and re-hydration powders.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Egypt: Stay Healthy on vacation!

Getting ready for any trip takes months and weeks of research, planning and packing. While preparing all the activities, transportation, documentation and securing loose ends while you’re are away, don’t forget to prepare your health for the visit too! It is important to make the most of your trip by participating in all pre-planned activities rather than experiencing Egypt from the hotel bathroom or a local medical center; so be safe, vaccinate!

Planning to stay healthy while you travel is the MOST important part of planning for your trip.

The best ways to ensure a safe and healthy trip are to be educated about the health risks in Egypt and get vaccinated.

For travel to Egypt, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends the following vaccinations:
Also, beware of the avian flu outbreak currently in Egypt. Getting the influenza shot can help prevent catching the avian flu by covering the H5N1 strain, however, it will not fully protect you. It is better to be on the safe side and take all preventative precautions, get the flu shot before travel! Passport Health offers the influenza vaccine year round, including the shot that will help protect against strains of the avian flu.
Most of these vaccinations are routine for citizens of the USA and you have more than likely been adequately vaccinated for some, but it is important to see a travel medicine specialist to be sure you are prepared with the proper vaccinations and information to stay healthy in Egypt.

Now that you know about all the diseases and viruses that have preventive vaccines, you are free to take other preventive measures for the rest of the "icky" things that can affect your trip.

  • Insect-Borne Diseases(Dengue Fever, Malaria): use appropriate repellents containing DEET, and prescribed Malaria medication.
  • Travelers' Diarrhea: use antibiotics and re hydration powders (diarrhea kit available at Passport Health)
  • Intestinal Infections: Swim only in properly chlorinated or salt water, wear shoes at all times (even on the beach), follow food and water precautions given by an expert.
  • Jet-Lag, Motion sickness, Altitude sickness: several different medications available
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis: Remain properly hydrated during flight, get up frequently to stretch your legs to maintain circulation, consider wearing pressure gradient Travel Socks
  • Emergency Medical Evacuation: Obtain appropriate Travel and Evacuation Insurance.

Don't let the possibility of getting sick in Egypt deter you from going. The best way to ensure safety and good health is to know the risks and take the right precautions against them.

Thank you to the CDC and our Travel Medicine Specialists for their contribution to this post.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Egypt: What documents do I need?

Before starting any trip overseas you should ask yourself some important questions.

  • Do I have a valid passport?
  • Do I need a visa?
  • Did I get all recommended travel vaccinations? Can I prove it?
  • Where can I get reliable information?
  • How long will it take me to collect all documents?

The following information should help you with answering those questions.

All U.S. citizens need a passport and visa to enter Egypt.

Make sure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after you plan to return to the United States. You can apply for a passport at your local post office for a fee of about $100. Come prepared with all forms filled out and passport pictures ready to speed up process.

A renewable 30-Day tourist visa can be obtained upon arrival at an Egyptian airport for a $15 fee, payable in U.S. Dollars.

Visitors who enter Egypt overland or have previously experienced difficulties with their visa status in Egypt should obtain their visa prior to their travel.

A tourist visa can be obtained at the Egyptian Embassy in Washington. The embassy currently requires a minimum of 7-10 working days to process visa requests. It is suggested to submit your request as early as possible.

The Egyptian visa requirements are:
  • Filled out visa application form (can be downloaded from the embassy’s website)
  • One 2” by 2” recent photo
  • Passport (still valid for at least 6 months) and has an empty page to stamp the visa.
  • Fee (for U.S. citizens fees are $15, payments are in cash or money order only, money orders payable to the Consulate of Egypt)
  • For Non-Americans, photocopy of green card or valid U.S. Visa and Photocopy of round-trip ticket or itinerary. Visit the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs web site at for the most current visa information.

If arriving from an infected area, a proof of yellow fever immunization is required to enter the country.

Evidence of an AIDS test is required for everyone staying over thirty days, for the purpose of studying or working in Egypt.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Egypt: Let's talk Pyramids

The largest pyramid ever built is the Great Pyramid. It incorporates about 2.3 million stone blocks, weighing an average of 2.5 to 15 tons each. It is estimated that the workers would have had to set a block every two and a half minutes. How did they do it?

Archaeologists have been trying to solve the puzzle of where the possibly 100,000 laborers who built the pyramids lived. The settlement of the camps have been discovered, Bakeries have been found to feed the workers, as well as cemeteries, tools, hieroglyphic inscriptions, names of the craftsmen, overseers, inspectors, 25 unique new titles, and more. They even found 600 skeletons of Egyptians, some of which had emergency medical treatment having been injured while working on the pyramid. There is also evidence that these workers worked all year round, seeing that, according to their beliefs, they were assured a certain place in the afterlife. Their hard labor for their king and Pharaoh would also benefit the future and prosperity of Egypt as a whole.

They hauled these blocks with oxen and gangs of men.

"There is support (that) the builders of the pyramids were Egyptians. They are not the Jews as has been said, they are not people from a lost civilization. They are not out of space. They are Egyptian and their skeletons are here, and were examined by scholars, doctors and the race of all the people we found are completely supporting that they are Egyptians." -ZAHI HAWASS, Director General of Giza

Many tourists are drawn to the massive presence of the Great Pyramid at Giza. Great Pyramid of Cheops is the oldest and largest pyramid among the three pyramids of the Giza Necropolis. Originally standing at 481 ft high and covering an area of 13 acres of land, the Great Pyramid is 754 ft at base.

Enjoy the oldest wonder of the world. Before you go, eat a big healthy breakfast, wear comfortable shoes, sunscreen and bring your camera!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Egypt: Know when to go?

Egypt has so much to offer and knowing when to travel and what to expect will help you enjoy it even more!

Egypt’s climate is one of the primary factors to consider when planning your trip. Egypt has mild winters and very hot summers.

The best time to visit Egypt is October through May. Temperatures vary from 60 up to around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

The nights are usually cool but days are still sunny. For most of the year it is hot and sunny in Egypt. Unless you are using an umbrella to protect yourself from the sun, you will most likely find no use for it.
Boats dock at the banks of the Nile River in Cairo during a sandstorm, 17 April 2007

You will have to watch out for dust storms in March and April. The Egyptians call this phenomenon “khamsin”. “Khamsin” is a hot wind that travels through the Western Desert. Winds reach speeds up to 90 miles per hour and carry a lot of dust and sand from the desert. These sandstorms can last for days and usually leave everything covered with a thick layer of dust.

In the summer time the weather gets very hot and humid. Temperatures reach 100+ degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t mind the swampy weather and high temperatures, feel free to visit Egypt in the summer.

National Averages:
Warmest Month: June
Coldest Month: January
Wettest Month: January
Driest Month: May

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Country of the Month: Egypt!

Egypt's ancient culture is what draws most people to explore it's vast, arid terrain. The Pyramids at Giza, the Nile River, diving in the Red Sea, who wouldn't want to go?

  • Egypt is the most populated country in the Middle East and the third most populous on the African continent, with an estimated 75 million people.
  • Egypt has only two seasons: a very hot summer between May and October, and a mild winter from November to April.

Join us this month as we explore Egypt and it's culture, history and unique characteristics that make it one of the most fascinating travel destinations in the world.