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Zika Virus and Carnival
Many destinations in South and Central America and the Caribbean are experiencing an outbreak of Zika virus that has prompted the World Health Organization to announce an International Public Health Emergency. Specific areas where this virus transmission are ongoing are often difficult to determine and are likely to continue changing over time. As more information becomes available, travel notices and safety updates, as this, will be updated.
Global Risk and Safety will continue to monitor various sources and notify travelers in these regions of any changes to the Restricted Regions listing. If the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention upgrades the Travel Health notices to a Travel Health Notice: Warning Level 3, the region affected will become a University of Texas at Austin Restricted Region.
The International Oversight Committee strongly recommends that travelers refer to the Zika Virus page on the University Health Services website, and that they consult with a healthcare provider about any concerns.
Additional resources include the following:
- CDC: Travel Notices
- CDC: Interim Guidelines for Prenant Women During a Zika Virus Outbreak
- CDC: Zika Virus
- International SOS: Zika Virus
The symptoms of the Zika virus are typically mild, but can be similar to Dengue and Chikungunya. Any traveler showing symptoms should seek medical attention:
- If you develop a fever with a rash, joint pain, or red eyes (pinkeye) seek medical attention as these are the common symptoms. Tell medical staff about your travel.
- Take medicine, such as acetaminophen or paracetamol, to relieve fever and pain. Do not take aspirin, products containing aspirin, or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.
- Get lots of rest and drink plenty of liquids.
- Prevent additional mosquito bites to avoid spreading the disease.
- If diagnosed with Zika it is important to avoid bites from other mosquitoes, as this is the most common form of transmission.
Special Concerns for pregnant women
- The CDC recommends extra precautions as the virus is linked to an increase in microcephaly in infants.
- The link is strong enough to trigger the CDC to recommend that pregnant women consider postponing travel to areas where Zika transmission is ongoing. Women trying to get pregnant should consult their healthcare provider before traveling to these areas and consider using a reliable method of contraception while in a Zika-risk area.
- Pregnant women returning from Zika-affected areas should notify their prenatal healthcare provider of their travel history.
- Plan and take actions to prevent mosquito bites. These precautions can prevent any illness transmitted by mosquitos.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
- Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. All EPA-registered insect repellents are evaluated for effectiveness.
- Always follow the product label instructions.
- If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.
- Consult the CDC website for avoiding bites for additional repellent recommendations.
- Reapply insect repellent as directed.
- Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
- Contraceptive is suggested as tests have shown Zika can be transmitted through sexual contact. It is advised to avoid the semen of male partners returning from Zika-infected areas and individuals should contact their healthcare provider to determine how long this is necessary.
Carnival begins on Friday, February 5, 2016 and concludes on Mardi Gras (or “Fat Tuesday”). Millions of tourists will visit Brazil’s coastal cities, including Rio de Janeiro to participate in these festivities. This time of year is summer in Brazil and unfortunately, its peak breeding season for mosquitoes. Few visitors are likely to wear protective clothing on the beach or to Carnival street parties, making them vulnerable to insect bites, making a Zika Carnival outbreak possible.
A combination of millions of people in the streets with the current outbreak can result in the further spread across Brazil, and the possibility of those returning to their home country with the virus is heightened. Currently, the Brazilian government is taking measures to ensure the residents are in compliance with clearing areas that can be a breeding ground.
There isn’t only concern for countries in the Caribbean, Central and South America, as the virus has been detected in the United States. Individuals should follow mosquito preventatives listed below any time outdoors, not just while traveling, but at all times.
For more information about Carnival, please see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Carnival information site.
By Ashley Sassani, UT Global Risk and Safety
Mosquito-borne Illnesses and How to Protect Yourself While Traveling
The well-being of UT students, faculty, and staff is the primary concern of Global Risk and Safety, as well as the University of Texas. We strongly encourage international travel, and strive to keep travelers informed. Many of our travelers frequent areas where mosquito borne illnesses are prominent.
Over one million people die each year from a mosquito-borne illness. Malaria, Chikungunya, Dengue, Yellow Fever, West Nile Virus and, most recently, Zika are common illnesses transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. While most of these are found in subtropical locations, many of them are becoming common in many areas around the world.
Nearly one million deaths are credited to Malaria every year. For travelers in tropical and subtropical countries, the risk is increasing. Occurring in most of sub-Saharan Africa, south and Southeast Asia, India, Pakistan, Mexico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Central and South America, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, Malaria has the highest risk between dusk and dawn.
While malaria is preventable and curable, young children, pregnant women, and non-immune travelers from malaria-free areas are particularly vulnerable to the disease when they are bitten by an infected mosquito.
Symptoms are typically flu-like – including fever, chills, headache, muscle ashes, a vague feeling of being ill and sometimes diarrhea and coughing. Some symptoms can develop into liver and kidney failure, convulsions, coma and death. The symptoms can develop from seven days to several months after leaving the area where the infection occurred. It is important to finish all preventative medications as the symptoms can return.
For more information, please see the University of Texas at Austin University Health Services Malaria Vaccine information sheet.
Dengue (Dengue Fever)
Dengue is endemic throughout the tropics and subtropics and is a leading cause of febrile illness among travelers returning from Latin America, the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia. Dengue occurs in less than 100 countries worldwide, but close to 400 million people are infected yearly. Transmission occurs through the bite of an infected mosquito. Blood borne transmission is also possible through exposure to infected blood, organs, or other tissues.
The geographic distribution of dengue is similar to that of malaria, but dengue is more of a risk in urban and residential areas than malaria. Symptoms of infection, febrile illness (fever with unknown cause), usually begin four to seven days after exposure and can last three to ten days. The fever associated to dengue can last two to seven days. In addition to fever, other symptoms include severe headache, muscle, joint, and bone pain, rash, and hemorrhagic manifestations.
For more in depth information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Like other mosquito-borne viruses and diseases, humans contract chikungunya from mosquito bites. Outbreaks of the virus have occurred in countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Indian and Pacific Oceans. In 2013, chikungunya was found for the first time in the Americas on islands in the Caribbean.
Biting primarily in the daytime, the mosquitoes carrying chikungunya often carry dengue. Symptoms usually begin three to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. The most common symptoms are fever and joint pain. Rarely fatal, the symptoms can persist as severe or disabling. Most infected individuals will feel better within a week, but some can experience joint pains for months.
There are currently no vaccines and the primary treatment is pain medications. The virus is rarely transmitted from mother to child during birth, as well as transmission from breastfeeding.
Yellow Fever can be found in the subtropical areas of Africa and South America. It is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. It is rare for travelers from the U.S. to become infected with Yellow Fever, as most countries have regulations and requirements for the yellow fever vaccination that must be met prior to entering the country.
The majority of individuals infected with yellow fever show no or only mild illness. It can take three to six days to develop symptoms after the infected bite. Initially, symptoms include fever, chills, severe headache, back pain, body aches, nausea, and vomiting, fatigue and weakness. In persons who become symptomatic but recover, weakness and fatigue may last several months.
Illness can range from self-limited febrile illness to severe liver disease with bleeding. A diagnosis of yellow fever is based on the symptoms, physical findings, laboratory testing, and travel history. There is no specific care for yellow fever; the care is based on the symptoms of the individual infected. Patients should be protect themselves from additional mosquito exposure in order to prevent transmitting the infection to another mosquito, who can then transmit to another individual.
If recommended, travelers should get vaccinated.
West Nile Virus
The West Nile Virus is most commonly transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes.
Most individuals infected will not develop any symptoms. Some people will can develop febrile illness. Approximately one in five people infected with develop a fever with additional symptoms such as headache, body ache, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. Less than 1% of individuals infected will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis, which causes inflammation of the brain and/or surrounding tissues.
There is no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment for the West Nile virus.
The Zika virus, very similar to dengue and chikungunya, is transmitted to humans through the same type of mosquitoes. The mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus are aggressive daytime biters and feed indoors and outdoors, near dwellings.
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued an official CDC Health Advisory for individuals traveling to Central America, South America, the Caribbean and Mexico. As of January 2016, 14 countries have reported transmission of the Zika virus, with spread to other regions very likely.
While dengue can have more severe symptoms, the symptoms of Zika are similar, with the most common symptoms including fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. These symptoms can last from several days to a week, with severe disease requiring hospitalization.
The CDC has linked serious birth defects to infants born to mothers who have been infected by the disease. These can include microcephaly, which causes a smaller-than-normal head size and is associated with incomplete brain development. There are no vaccines to prevent Zika virus disease.
If infected, protect others from getting sick:
- During the first week of infection, Zika can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to another mosquito through a mosquito bite. This mosquito can then pass the infection to others.
It is strongly recommended for travelers to practice measures of prevention for mosquito bites:
- Use insect repellents.
- Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide long lasting protection.
- If you use both sunscreen and insect repellent, apply the sunscreen first and then the repellent.
- Do not spray insect repellent on the skin under your clothing.
- Treat clothing with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated clothing.
- Always follow the label instructions when using insect repellent and/or sunscreen.
- When weather permits, wear long sleeve shirts and long pants. Spray the outside of clothing with insect repellent.
- Use air conditioning or window/door screens. If unable to use screens or protect yourself indoors, sleep under a mosquito net.
- Empty standing water from containers such as flowerpots or buckets.
- Be aware of peak mosquito hours.
- Select accommodations with well-screened windows and doors or air conditioning when possible. Travelers are advised to use insecticides to get rid of mosquitoes in the areas where mosquitoes are found.
- See a healthcare provide as soon as symptoms emerge.
Travelers can visit International SOS for further information and advice regarding travel to the country.
By Ashley Sassani, UT Global Risk and Safety
Istanbul: Fatal Bombing in Sultanahmet Square
At approximately 10:20 am (local time), a suspected suicide bomber discharged a bomb in the area of Sultanahmet Square in the Fatih district of Istanbul, killing at least 10 and injuring approximately 15. The blast occurred between the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque, which are popular attractions for culture and history in Istanbul.
International SOS has provided the following:
Investigations into the nature of the explosion are ongoing, though it could have been a suicide bomb attack. The security forces have reportedly blocked access to Sultanahmet Square, and travelers are advised to avoid the area, including Sultanahmet Tram station, and anticipate a heightened security force presence across the city.
An explosion targeting foreigners in a touristic hub is unprecedented in Istanbul in recent years. While no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, it is in line with the modus operandi used by the extremist Islamic State (IS) group.
Travel Advice Summary
- Exercise caution in Istanbul over the coming hours. Expect heightened security throughout the city and allow additional time for travel.
- Exercise heightened caution and avoid the vicinity of touristic sites, public places, including metro stations, as well as security force and government assets and personnel.
- Follow all instructions issued by the security forces, and carry identification to facilitate passage through any checkpoints.
Visit International SOS for further information and advice regarding travel to the country.
Disruption Possible for Travel in Europe
Travelers should anticipate increased travel disruptions in Europe due to the increased border controls prompted by the continued influx of refugees into European nations. These border controls are susceptible to more modifications, and have led to the increase of substantial disruptions in travel within some of these regions.
If traveling in western and central Europe, it is urged that travelers contact the train company being used, or monitor travel alerts for any disruptions. If needed, travelers are also reminded their itineraries may need to be adjusted to account for disruption on cross-border routes and key train hubs.
International SOS has provided border crossing and country specific information regarding border changes within Europe:
- Germany enacted strict border controls with Austria that will be in effect until mid-February 2016
- OeBB (Austrian Rail)’s local cross-border service between Salzburg and reilassing is again in operation as of 25 November. Long distance trains between Munich and Vienna resumed 27 November, though travelers must change trains at Salzburg, where German officials will carry out security and identity checks. Travelers are to contact OeBB for specific itinerary information and alternative routes.
- Austria has reinstated border controls with Hungary including erecting a 2.5 mile fence on either side of a key border crossing; these controls will continue until further notice.
- There has been significant disruption and temporary closures on the A4 highway, which leads to the Nickelsdorf-Hegyeshalom border crossing. The Heiligenkreuz crossing may also experience disruption. The Klingenbach-Sopron border crossing, however, has so far been largely unaffected.
- The main Röszke (Hungary)-Horgoš (Serbia) border crossing has reopened with extensive controls and the addition of a 109-mile razor wire fence.
- Austria-Czech Republic: As of 08 October, the Czech Republic has increased the number of checks on its border with Austria from 14 to 20 crossing points.
- Austria-Slovakia: Temporary border controls, on both sides, may cause slow transit.
- Austria-Slovenia: On 05 November, Austria began to build a fence along its borders with Slovenia.
- Denmark-Germany: Beginning 04 January, Denmark has introduced temporary border checks, including random checks of cars crossing the border from Germany. These border checks are effective until 14 January 2016.
- Denmark-Sweden: On 04 January, Sweden implemented identity checks for those traveling from Denmark via the Oresund crossing, causing delays of up to 50 minutes for trains and buses crossing the 4.9 mile Oresund Bridge. All Sweden-bound trains stop at Kastrup station in Copenhagen, where passengers must undergo mandatory identity checks at the terminal’s immigration center prior to switching trains. These mandatory checks can add an hour or more to travel time. Direct travel from Copenhagen’s main railway station to Sweden are no longer available.
- Finland: Beginning 19 September, passport controls have been reintroduced along the border with Sweden.
- France: The Channel Tunnel crossing is subject to intermittent disruption due to clashes between migrants and security forces. Border controls have been reinstated indefinitely. Checkpoints have been established on major routes between France and Belgium, with drivers and passengers subject to passport checks.
- Germany: Border controls have been reinstated until mid-February, particularly at the borders with Austria.
- Hungary-Croatia: Hungary’s land border with Croatia is closed to migrants, though legal travel can continue through official border crossings. Delays are possible due to police and border enforcement action at the border with Croatia. Train services between Hungary and Croatia are suspended at the Gyékényes and Magyarbóly border stations until further notice.
- Hungary-Romania: Hungary has announced plans to build a fence along its border with Romania. As a result, Romania heightened its border controls, which has resulted in delays of up to three hours at Nadlac, the main border crossing with Hungary.
- Italy: Additional police officers have been deployed along the border with Austria and inspections on trains are being intensified.
- Greece: The EU border agency Frontex began deploying 300 officers and 15 vessels on 29 December to help with the influx of migrants.
- Macedonia-Greece: Rail service between Greece and Macedonia has resumed. Macedonia has extended a state of emergency on its northern and southern borders until 15 June 2016, allowing the army to be involved in border control. Additionally, the Macedonian government is building a fence along its southern border with Greece to prevent illegal crossings and to channel the flow of migrants through the official checkpoints.
- Malta: The country lifted the increased border controls it had temporarily reintroduced in November.
- Netherlands: Border controls with Belgium and Germany have been temporarily reintroduced.
- Norway: Norway has reinstated identity checks on all ferries and buses from Sweden, Denmark, and Germany, and increased controls along all its borders.
- Serbia-Croatia: Croatia has reopened its border with Serbia, and rail services between Serbia and Croatia are operating normally. However, the EU border agency Frontex has increased its presence at border crossings along the Serbia-Croatia border.
- Slovakia: Slovakia has renewed checks on its borders with Hungary and Austria.
- Slovenia-Croatia: Slovenia has erected a fence along its border with Croatia. All rail traffic between Croatia and Slovenia has been suspended since 16 October, and troops have joined the border police to patrol the border. Vehicles of up to 7.5 tons are allowed to pass through the Harmica border crossing.
- Slovenia-Hungary: Hungary temporarily reinstated controls on 17 October along its border with Slovenia until further notice.
- Sweden: Temporary border controls have been reinstated
,until further notice.
- If traveling cross-border
,over land, travelers should reconfirm the status of relevant border posts as closures are possible with little or no notice.
- If intending to travel by rail, more specifically between Austria and Germany or via Eurostar, check the status of the train(s) prior to travel as travelers may need to adjust their itineraries.
- Traveling by road can have delays up to 8 hours. When possible, an alternative form of travel should be considered.
- Always carry photographic identification. Individuals who are not European citizens, and require visas, should ensure all materials are up to date.
- Monitor security alerts and/or local publications for possible disruptions.
By Ashley Sassani, UT Global Risk & Safety
Safe Travel Tips for the Holiday Season
16 December 2015
Many individuals will being taking advantage of the holiday season to travel, whether it be to visit friends or family, or leisure travel. No matter the reason, it is always best to travel prepared. International SOS recommends the following to help reduce risk and ensure safer travels:
- Do your research. Verify there are no regulations regarding your destination. If there are any medical considerations, be aware of the culture and risk environment at your destination, as well as who to contact in the event of an emergency.
- Ensure reliable communications. Having the ability to receive and send information is integral to ensuring safety while traveling. It is suggested to keep a fully charged party on your person at all times; if you are traveling abroad, make sure your phone plan has activated international use. Sign up to receive alerts from news sources of you destination, and/or your emergency service provider. It is also advised to register with your country’s travel advisory service, for example the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program provided by the U.S. State Department, for U.S. citizens traveling abroad.
- Be a Hard Target. Crimes of opportunity, such as document theft and pick pocketing often increases during the holiday season. To help minimize risk of crimes of opportunity, it is suggested:
- Maintain a low profile. Don’t wear expensive jewelry or show signs of wealth and refrain from carrying large amounts of cash.
- Be cognizant of ATM locations. Use ones only on the street or inside banks, or shopping malls, preferably only during daylight hours.
- Maintain possession of personal belongings. Do not keep all personal belongings, such as passport/visa, cash and credit cards in one place. Take particular care of personal belongings in crowded areas, including public transport, airplanes, train stations and tourist sites.
- Mitigate Road Safety Risks. It is not advisable to self-drive in unfamiliar areas. Road conditions can be considerably more dangerous this time of year due to an increase in traffic, snow and ice presence on the roads, and a higher prevalence of driving under the influence.
- Maintain Flexible Itineraries. This time of year, disruptions in transit can halt journeys and can extend wait times. The most common delays are caused by weather related disruptions.
Maintaining healthy habits for the duration of a trip can seem trivial, but can have major impacts on travel experiences. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the following to ensure travelers stay as healthy as possible to enjoy their trip(s):
- Wash hands often. Keep your hands clean by washing with warm water and using soap. Use a tissue when you cough or sneeze; if no tissue is available, use your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
- Stay warm. If traveling to a colder climate, keep clothes dry and dress warm in several layers.
- Manage Stress. Many find traveling to be extremely stressful, but this can lead to illness. Make sure to get enough sleep. Expect delays and arrive early to help prevent stress.
- Get checkups and vaccinations prior to traveling. Talk to your healthcare provider and look on the CDC’s website for Traveler’s Health for suggested vaccinations prior to departure.
By Ashley Sassani, UT Global Risk & Safety
Worldwide Travel Alert, EU Immigration Situation and Beijing Smog
10 December 2015
Worldwide travel alert
Travelers are urged to remain cognizant of their surroundings, and to report any suspicious persons, packages or activities to the nearest law enforcement authorities, who are responsible for the safety and security of people in the country.
U.S. citizens are urged to exercise attentiveness in public places and/or using public transportation. The State Department encourages individuals to be aware of their surrounding and avoid large crowds and/or crowded places. Particular caution should be exercised during the holiday season and at holiday events or festivals.
It is important to maintain a current emergency response plan at all times, and to be aware that phone and computer networks may be inoperable during and after a significant event. A free tool to help travelers prepare is the “Emergency App” sponsored by the Red Cross, includes checklists for what to do before, during and after multiple types of emergencies.
Travelers are not discouraged from traveling, but should expect to experience longer lines and wait times. International SOS created a Travel Risk Map to help inform travelers about risks associated with potential vacation destinations.
This Department of State Worldwide Travel Alert remains active until February 24, 2016.
European Immigration and its impact on travel
The flood of asylum seekers in Europe has received wide coverage by media, not only for humanitarian concerns, but other issues and/or concerns that have ascended.
One of the biggest issues affecting those in Europe is transportation – land, rail and maritime. The transportation issue continues to unfold with a multitude of delays and issues for those traveling within Europe. Some Schengen member states have reinstated internal border checks, causing more delays for commuters. These border checks also aid to the congestion and traffic disruptions for those driving in these regions. Travelers are reminded to always have their passport and/or visa in their possession and readily available.
U.S. citizens are not required to apply for a visa if the trip in the Schengen area is less than three months; and can travel freely within the EU member states after initial customs procedures at entry.
Overall, the crime rate amongst these areas has not risen, and violent crimes are uncommon. The number of crimes among asylum seekers is relatively low, seeing the majority of the crimes to be petty like pickpocketing. The biggest crime is human trafficking, which has been seen to lead to money laundering and document fraud. Travelers should always keep their personal belongings, especially identification in a safe place, and not in an area on their person where it can be stolen, nor in a bag left unattended.
Political violence, protests, and demonstrations have been shown by the media in many European countries accepting immigrants or asylum seekers. These are by groups opposing immigration, or done by the immigrants themselves. In these situations, travelers are urged to stay away from these events as there is occasional violence. If caught in the middle of a protest, find a safe place to wait for it to end.
While there have been acts of terrorism in the region, these acts are not common. Travelers are reminded to act with vigilance. Any suspicious behavior, packages, or activities should be reported to law enforcement authorities.
Travelers are highly encouraged to travel abroad, but are reminded there can be delays in travel, including trains and sea vessels. U.S. citizens are to keep their passport nearby when traveling through the Schengen regions and to remain conscious of their surroundings while enjoying their travels.
Beijing: First ever red alert
For the first time, Beijing officials have risen the pollution alert to “red” from a surge of air pollution. Although the smog has been worse previously, the highest alert possible was issued at 7 am local time on December 8 and will last until 12pm local time on December 10. Flight and road travel are likely to be disrupted during this time as visibility is minimum and car use is limited.
According to meteorologists, there is a possibility of this surge from December 14 – 16 in Beijing, Hebei, and Tianjin.
Travel advice for the impacted areas:
- Members planning to fly to or from airports in the affected areas should contact the relevant airline for information on flight schedules and factor potential delays into itineraries.
- Driving conditions are likely to be difficult while poor visibility persists. Also cars with odd and even number plates will banned from driving on alternate days. Road journeys may take longer than usual; allow additional time to reach destinations.
- Comply with any directives issued by the local authorities or emergency services.
- Smog can cause minor health problems, such as eye and nasal irritation and coughs.
- Smog can aggravate chronic cardiac diseases and respiratory problems, such as asthma. Air pollution may have a greater impact on the health of children and elderly people.
- Travelers in an area affected by smoke or haze should reduce their exposure to air pollution.
- While indoors, travelers should keep windows and doors closed, and keep air conditioners in 'recirculate' mode.
- Travelers may consider using a respirator (N95 mask) while outdoors. Consult with a doctor for an individual recommendation.
- Monitor ISOS travel security alerts for further updates and contact your nearest Assistance Centre for itinerary- and profile-specific advice.
By Ashley Sassani, UT Global Risk & Safety
PARIS SITUATION UPDATE
18 November 2015
UT Austin continues to be in contact with students to offer support and recommend security precautions. European governments' ongoing actions are a positive indicator of shared intelligence and the ability to thwart future attacks. We are working with individual students, programs and families to support students as The University believes strongly in the importance of international cultural exchange.
Travelers should remember that the goal of terrorism is to promote fear. Students should try to stay calm and seek counseling support via International SOS at +1-215-942-8478 (collect calls accepted) or their local program.
We also understand that each individual has a unique threshold for their personal safety standards, so anyone wishing to discuss options about coming home should connect with their study abroad program coordinators; rest assured that we will do all we can to facilitate return if necessary. Program Coordinators can be reached by calling 512-471-6490.
- Be aware of your surroundings, and respect local sensitivities over recent developments.
- Check in with your academic program daily.
- There remains potential for short-notice travel restrictions and evacuations of transport hubs or other sensitive locations as a result of fresh security alerts. Consequently, be flexible in your itineraries.
- Consider carefully any information relayed on social media and ensure appropriate corroboration through reliable sources.
- Register for International SOS and U.S. Department of State (STEP) security alerts online and heed recommendations.
- Allow ample time for travel and for check-in procedures, especially if traveling by air or through a border crossing.
- Ensure you have travel documents (i.e., passport and visa) on you at all times for use in any identity checks.
UT AUSTIN MESSAGE OF SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS IN EUROPE
17 November 2015
As a reminder to all travelers in Europe, please continue to connect with your family, friends, and colleagues in the coming days so that they know you are well. Many people are concerned about you, especially because of the horrendous attacks in Paris, and eagerly await your updates. This is especially important given that the University will not be emailing all parents as a group due to privacy concerns and regulations.
If you need any security advice or referrals for medical or counseling support, please do not hesitate to take advantage of the International SOS resources at your disposal. Specifics on the latest security information for Western Europe may also be found on the ISOS website. Additionally, if you are not signed up to get ISOS email alerts you should go to the website to enroll:
+215-942-8478 (collect calls accepted)
UT Member #11BSGC000037
Use the member login on at the top of the page
If you run into a situation that does not feel right, or see something suspicious, remove yourself from the situation and report it to the local authorities immediately. After alerting local authorities, report it to International SOS. You are always welcome to email the following account as well if you ever need to talk: firstname.lastname@example.org.
As another reminder, the University recommends that all travelers avoid protests, large gatherings, and any potentially threatening situations. There were reports on Friday that showed several people who, after hearing gunfire and/or emergency vehicles, went outside to videotape what was happening. Do not do this; your safety is paramount, so please remain safely indoors in any such emergency until authorities give the all clear.
Along similar lines, pay close attention to all security alerts you receive from the Embassy and International SOS in the coming days and weeks. As most of you are likely aware, there have now been several reports of additional attacks that have all been proven to be false. The University does not feel there is a greater threat to Europe than to most areas of the world, but wants to ensure you receive and read vital information in case any other crises or attacks were to occur.
At this point, you can expect to see increased security measures throughout most of Europe. This will result in longer processing times at airports and border crossings. Please carry your visa and passport information with you in case you are asked to show identification, and please do your best to comply with any directions from security personnel. If curfews are implemented, follow all directive guidance.
UT Austin is not currently curtailing or cancelling any programming, but rest assured that we are continuing to closely monitor the situation and are regularly consulting with State Department representatives and partner universities. We are choosing to focus on the value of continuing these international cultural exchanges rather than lending any credence to such despicable acts of terrorism. Our goal is to instead provide you all the support you need to be able to complete your programs successfully. Your safety remains paramount, though, so if you feel the need to come home, please contact your study abroad program coordinators so that they can explain your options and assist you with the process.
If you have questions about your academic program, specifically the class schedule for this week, please contact your local program coordinator or study abroad coordinator here in Austin. Likewise, if you experience any difficulties with your housing or transportation as a result of these events and increased security and need assistance, please reach out to us for support.
Sciences Po Statement: http://www.sciencespo.fr/en/news/news/sciences-po-stands-attacks/1655
IFE Statement: http://www.ife-edu.eu/The-Current-Situation-in-Paris
U.S. Department of State Worldwide Cautoin: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings/worldwide-caution.html
UNIVERSITY STATEMENT ON SITUATION IN PARIS
14 November 2015
UT Austin is pleased to report that all students and faculty known to be in Paris and other parts of France are safe and accounted for. Thanks to all the students and faculty who helped locate friends and colleagues. Any student or faculty member needing assistance or just someone to talk to should call the ISOS number at 215-942-8478 or UTPD at 512-471-4441.
13 November 2015
The University of Texas at Austin is monitoring the situation in Paris. We have contacted students, partner universities and programs. Students, faculty, staff and parents with concerns should call UTPD at 512.471.4441 or reference resources on this website: http://world.utexas.edu/risk/emergency
ISOS Headlines – Americas: Brazil, Mexico, Peru
25 September 2015
Below are three recent International SOS headlines for locations in the Americas. Travelers to these regions should pay close attention to the Travel Advice sections and continue to maintain situational awareness while traveling.
Brazil: Rio de Janeiro: Robberies in upscale areas underscore need for security precautions
A spate of street and beach robberies on 19-20 September in the upscale Barra de Tijuca, Botafogo, Copacabana and Ipanema areas of Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro state) underline the need to take stringent security precautions to mitigate the risks posed by crime. In response to the incidents, local residents on 20 September stopped a public bus travelling to Copacabana from the northern Manguinhos favela (shanty town), attacking passengers they alleged were prolific thieves.
Upscale neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro are periodically targeted for so-called arrastão (trawler) robberies, wherein a large group of criminals create disorder in a public area, such as a beach, and intimidate and rob those present. The most common sites for arrastões and other crimes that may target foreigners are the popular Copacabana and Arpoador (Ipanema) beaches, as well as areas surrounding bars and nightclubs, especially after dark.
While Brazil remains a MEDIUM travel risk destination, the risks associated with travel to deprived urban areas of major cities are rated as HIGH and travel to such locations should be avoided. However, the recent spate of robberies underscores that affluent and tourist areas are not immune from crime, even during daylight hours. Members visiting upscale areas should avoid walking along beaches after dark, when the risk of sexual assault and armed robbery increases, and refrain from carrying valuables such as passports, jewelry and expensive electronic equipment. For city-specific travel advice, visit our website.
Travel Advice Summary
- Crime poses a significant risk to travelers. Observe stringent security precautions at all times and be aware of the local geography, taking care to avoid high-risk districts. Avoid large crowds and leave an area at the first sign of any disturbance.
- Criminals are commonly armed and are liable to resort to violence if resisted; if targeted, avoid doing anything to resist or antagonize assailants.
- The 20 September bus attack highlights that public transport is not sufficiently secure for foreigners. Use only official taxis or hire a private vehicle and driver.
- Accommodation should provide basic security countermeasures; mainstream-brand chains with enhanced security standards are recommended. Avoid walking in city streets after dark, especially if alone. If you are walking, take only brightly-lit, busy streets. Avoid walking through isolated stretches of beach at any time of the day.
Mexico: Urban centers: Avoid protests linked to anniversary of students' disappearance on 26 September due to risk of unrest
Travelers in the capital Mexico City and other urban centers should anticipate and avoid protests ahead of and on 26 September linked to the first anniversary of the disappearance of 43 students from Iguala (Guerrero state). The missing students' parents late on 23 September commenced a hunger strike at the Zócalo (main square) in Mexico City, which will conclude with protests involving the participation of various political groups on 26 September. Activists in the capital on that day will march from four different points – Auditorio Nacional, Calzada Zaragoza, Indios Verdes and Tasqueña – and congregate on the Zócalo.
The Zócalo, Paseo de la Reforma, the Angel of Independence monument and the Monument to the Revolution are common gathering points for such demonstrations in Mexico City. Rallies are also likely in cities throughout Guerrero state, including Acapulco and the state capital Chilpancingo.
Activists on 23 September blocked entrances to Tixtla (Guerrero) and occupied several buildings including the city hall after at least 13 people, including 11 police officers, were injured when clashes erupted during a related gathering on the previous day in the town. Protesters set fire to a vehicle and threw stones and Molotov cocktails at the police when the latter attempted to prevent demonstrators from marching towards Chilpancingo (Guerrero). The security forces subsequently used tear gas to disperse the crowd. Disturbances were also reported during similar protests in Chilpancingo on 20 and 23 September.
- Liaise with local contacts for information on related protests. All events are likely to be well-attended and should be avoided due to a credible risk of unrest.
- Likely protest flashpoints include central plazas, government buildings – particularly education ministry facilities – and critical transport infrastructure, including major roads and airports.
- Members undertaking overland journeys, including to international airports, should reconfirm the status of routes prior to setting out.
- Do not attempt to cross roadblocks as this may elicit a hostile response from protesters.
- The above advice is not exhaustive; consult the Standing Travel Advice for Mexico.
Peru: Madre de Dios department: Normal travel can continue following illegal detention of tourists; exercise basic security precautions
At least 35 local nationals and foreign tourists were illegally detained on 23 September by around 200 residents of Boca Manu, a community in Manu National Park (Madre de Dios department). The tour group, which reportedly included Australian, Dutch, Spanish and US nationals, was later released unharmed at around 15.00 (local time) on the following day. Community members temporarily took the tourists captive as a bargaining tool in a dispute with the federal government over the construction of a highway through the region.
Such incidents are uncommon in Madre de Dios, a largely undeveloped area in the Amazon basin. The region is sparsely populated apart from a few relatively small urban centres; crimes targeting foreigners and disruptive social unrest are less prevalent than in larger cities such as the capital Lima and Arequipa (Arequipa department).
Nevertheless, the illegal detention of the foreign tourists in Boca Manu underscores that no area is immune. Although normal travel may continue, travelers should remain vigilant and carefully plan all aspects of their itinerary prior to travel. Members should be confident in their accommodation, transport, communication and security arrangements, particularly before entering remote areas where the authorities' ability to operate may be limited or delayed.
Travel Advice Summary
- Normal travel to Madre de Dios department may continue.
- Although the recent incident is unusual for the area, exercise vigilance and basic security precautions as no area is immune to criminality or social unrest.
- Carefully plan all aspects of itineraries and ensure confidence in accommodation, transport, communication and security arrangements prior to travel, particularly in remote areas.
- Monitor our travel security alerts on Peru for further information.
8.3-magnitude earthquake in Chile; Affects Americas, New Zealand, Pacific Islands
17 September 2015
Last night just before 8pm local time, a strong 8.3-magnitude earthquake struck off the cost of Chile forcing about 1 million people to evacuate along the coast after tsunami warnings were issued. At least ten people were killed in the earthquake, which has been followed by more than 70 aftershocks, several of which have had magnitudes greater than six. Structural damage to buildings, landslides and resultant roadblocks has been reported. Some of the country's interior roads have also reportedly been affected by landslides, and communication networks have been disrupted. Around 3,000 people have reportedly been affected by disruption to water supplies, while around 100,000 people have been affected by disruption to electricity, primarily in Illapel, Salamanca and other areas of Region IV in Chile. Global Risk & Safety worked immediately to identify any travelers in the region, to assess risk factors and to provide support.
Tsunami Warnings were issued for: Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Hawaii, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, New Zealand, French Polynesia, American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, Japan, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu, and Wallis and Futuna. According to International SOS (ISOS), normal travel can continue in the Americas, but New Zealand and the Pacific Islands are still under a Tsunami Warning.
ISOS Travel Advice for Chile
- Follow all directives issued by the emergency services. Communicate with all staff and confirm their status.
- Further aftershocks of varying magnitudes are possible in the coming hours and days and could pose risks to life and property. Be alert to the dangers posed by any structural damage to buildings and bridges; do not re-enter damaged buildings.
- Contact the relevant airline to ascertain the status of your flight. Residual delays to flights are possible in the coming hours and days.
- Anticipate possible disruption to travel and essential services in earthquake-affected areas. Routes may be blocked by debris or subject to closure by the authorities with little or no notice. Liaise with local contacts to ascertain that intended routes are clear before setting out. Ensure that your vehicle is appropriate for the terrain, and always carry adequate communications systems, full spares and enough fuel to complete your return journey.
- Monitor the National Office of Emergency of the Interior Ministry (ONEMI)'s website and our travel security alerts for further updates.
ISOS Travel Advice for New Zealand and the Pacific Islands
- Follow all directives issued by the emergency services, especially in coastal areas.
- Avoid low-lying coastal areas and beaches in affected areas in the coming hours or until the tsunami threat has passed.
- Monitor our travel security alerts for further updates.
Train assault in India reminder to observe safety precautions
14 September 2015
A U.S. national traveling on a train from India’s capital city Delhi to Jaipur was recently assaulted, underscoring the need to maintain situational awareness and observe basic security precautions while traveling. According to International SOS (ISOS), the victim disembarked the train in the wrong city after two fellow passengers convinced him he had arrived in Jaipur. The victim was struck on the head, but was not robbed.
About train travel in India, ISOS writes, “Incidents of crime occur frequently on trains and around railway stations. Incidents can involve criminals striking up a conversation with a fellow passenger and offering them spiked food and drinks, though more elaborate confidence tricks by organized criminal gangs and armed robberies are also known to occur.” Similarly, the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) warns that theft of personal property is common on trains and buses, and that theft of U.S. passports is a particular concern on overnight trains and in train stations.
ISOS: India train travel advice
- Where possible, travel longer distances by air. Where air travel is not a viable option, travel by rail is preferable to long car journeys. If travelling by rail, use first- and second-class air-conditioned coaches only to ensure comfort, mitigate the risk of opportunistic petty crime, and in the case of female travelers, the risk of harassment.
- Take sensible security precautions to mitigate the risks posed by crime. Such measures include not accepting any food/drinks from fellow passengers, maintaining a high level of information security (do not give out personal information or discuss your plans with strangers), and telling fellow passengers that a local contact will arrive at the destination station to receive them, even if that is not the case.
Turkey: U.S. consulate shooting and police station bombing in Istanbul
10 August 2015
UT travelers in Turkey are advised to anticipate heightened security and increased spot-checks as security forces conduct investigations related to today’s outbreak of violence in Istanbul. At around 1:00 am local time, a bomb blast followed by a shootout at a police station in Istanbul’s Sultanbeyli neighborhood injured several people. Later, assailants opened fire at the U.S. consulate in the Sariyer district, though no casualties were reported. Meanwhile, four police officers were killed by a roadside bomb in the southeastern province in Sirnak.
According to International SOS (ISOS), it is unclear at this time whether the shooting at the US consulate was carried out in co-ordination with the Sultanbeyli bombing.
ISOS Travel Advice Summary
- Avoid the vicinity of the US consulate and the surrounding area until the situation becomes clearer.
- Members with meetings at the US consulate or in need of consular services should contact the consulate by phone before their visit.
- Anticipate heightened security and increased spot-checks as the security forces conduct investigations; allow additional travel time and carry personal identification to ease movement through checkpoints.
- There is a credible risk of terrorist attacks in major cities, including Istanbul and the capital Ankara. Government and security personnel or facilities, and Western interests are potential targets for attack. Be alert to suspicious behaviour and report any suspect packages to the authorities.
- Monitor our travel security alerts on Turkey for additional updates (www.internationalsos.com; UT Member ID: 11BSGC000037).
The U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul plans to reopen on August 11th. If you are ever abroad and find yourself in need of immediate assistance, please contact International SOS anytime 24/7 at 1-215-942-8478, or call UTPD at 512-471-4441.
By Gabriela Rios, UT Global Risk & Safety
Updated Worldwide Caution
31 July 2015
The Department of State has updated its Worldwide Caution to provide information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world. Recent terrorist attacks, whether by those affiliated with terrorist entities, copycats, or individual perpetrators, serve as a reminder that U.S. citizens need to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness. This replaces the Worldwide Caution dated January 9, 2015.
The Department of State remains concerned about the continued threat of terrorist attacks, demonstrations, and other violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests overseas. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) published this informative annotated version of the Worldwide Caution.
All UT faculty, staff, and students currently abroad or planning travel abroad are strongly encouraged to read this. If you are ever abroad and find yourself in need of immediate assistance, please contact International SOS anytime 24/7 at 1-215-942-8478, or call UTPD at 512-471-4441.
Asia Update – Storms, Ash, and Stampede
10 July 2015
As a precaution, Global Risk and Safety would like to alert travelers about multiple situations ongoing in Asia. Travelers in these vicinities are encouraged to contact friends and family to let them know they are safe. More...
General Safety and Security Alert for Travelers
30 June 2015
Worldwide caution still in effect
All travelers are urged to maintain awareness of their surroundings and to report any suspicious persons, packages, or activities. It is also important to maintain a current emergency response plan at all times, and to be aware that phone and computer networks might be inoperable after a significant event. As a reminder, the Department of State issued a Worldwide Caution in January that remains active. More...
Mid-East, North Africa, Asia & Pacific: Remain alert during planned broadcast of cartoons of Muslim prophet
19 June 2015
Travelers in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific, should monitor developments related to the planned broadcast of controversial cartoons of the Muslim prophet Muhammed on Dutch television on 20 June, 24 June, and 3 July. Below is some regional guidance offered by International SOS (ISOS). UT travelers are strongly encouraged to visit the ISOS website (UT Member ID: 11BSGC000037) for country-specific travel advice. More...
Hurricane Season 2015
16 June 2015
The Department of State has issued a Travel Alert for U.S. citizens about the upcoming Hurricane Season in the Atlantic and Pacific, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico. The alert includes information about season predictions, travel advice, and regional resources. Travelers to these regions should read the full text of the alert. More...
Holy month of Ramadan begins 18 June
The Islamic holy month of Ramadan begins 18 June and is expected to end around 17 July, with a three-day public holiday celebrating Eid-al-Fitr. During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, and smoking during daylight hours. Businesses in areas with large Muslim populations often reduce working hours and close restaurants during the day in observation of this sacred time. Travelers should expect disruption to business activity and respect cultural sensitivities. More...
South Korea: MERS-CoV UPDATE
Updated: 12 June 2015
The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) recently posted a Security Message for U.S. Citizens to report that the list of MERS-affected hospitals has expanded. The full list can be found on this U.S. Embassy webpage: Latest Update on Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV). More...
South Korea: MERS-CoV Precautions
June 5, 2015
South Korea now has more than 40 confirmed MERS cases stemming from a gentleman who recently returned from the Middle East. MERS spreads through direct contact with infected camels and/or close personal contact with an infected person. Most transmission can be avoided by practicing proper hygiene, washing hands frequently, covering one's mouth when coughing, avoiding touching one's face with unwashed hands, and keeping a distance from anyone coughing or sneezing. The most common symptoms include fever, coughing, and respiratory distress. If experiencing these symptoms, please seek medical attention. More...
Mexico: Avoid Political Gatherings and Polling Stations in Run-up to June 7 Elections
June 2, 2015
As a security precaution, International SOS recommends avoiding political gatherings and polling stations until after the June 7 elections, as there is an increased risk of violence and unrest. Elections include federal legislative mid-terms, as well as state and local elections in the Federal District and the states of Baja California Sur, Campeche, Colima, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Mexico, Michoacán, Morelos, Nuevo León, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, Sonora, Tabasco, and Yucatán. More...
May 6, 2015
The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) released a report noting that alcohol poisoning has been identified as the cause of a recent string of 23 deaths and an additional 10 illnesses in Nigeria. For this reason, they issued cautions about consuming alcohol abroad, as many risks associated with consuming alcohol abroad are not prevalent in the U.S. Read the full article here: Shaken: The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad. More...
April 30, 2015
Due to the ongoing crisis in Nepal and its impact on infrastructure, International SOS recommends deferring all travel to the region. For this reason, the International Oversight Committee (IOC) has raised the overall risk rating for Nepal to Category 2 - High Risk. All travel to UT Restricted Regions must be reviewed and approved by the IOC. More...
ISOS Special Advisory: Nepal
April 27, 2015
UT is closely monitoring as events continue to unfold in Nepal and parts of India after the recent 7.9 earthquake. Below is the recent Special Advisory publised by International SOS, followed by the most current Travel Advice.
SPECIAL ADVISORY: Defer all travel after large earthquake causes extensive damage, significantly disrupts travel, essential services
Members should continue to defer all travel to Nepal after a magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck on 25 April around 50 miles (80km) north-west of the capital Kathmandu, killing more than 3,000 people and injuring up to 6,500. At least 60 aftershocks measuring more than 4.0 in magnitude have occurred in the region; the strongest registered at 6.7 magnitude and occurred around 40 miles (65km) east of Kathmandu at around 12.54 (local time) on 26 April. Further tremors are possible in the coming days, posing a threat to life and property. More...
New South Wales, Australia: Expect residual disruption in Sydney, elsewhere following cyclonic storm
April 23, 2015
A severe storm moved across southeast Australia on Tuesday and Wednesday, downing trees and causing flash flooding. More than 200,000 homes lost power during the storm, and several routes remain partially closed due to flooding and fallen trees. According to International SOS, "The authorities have declared 12 areas around Sydney and Newcastle (New South Wales) to be natural disaster zones, namely Cessnock, Dungog, Gosford, Great Lakes, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Newcastle City, Pittwater, Port Stephens, Singleton, Warringah and Wyong. At least four people were killed in storm-related incidents in Hunter." More...
Mexico and spring break travel risks
6 March 2015
Recently, the Texas Department of Public Safety issued a warning to students planning spring break travel to Mexico:
DPS also urges Texans to avoid travel to Mexico. The Mexican government has made great strides battling the cartels, and the department commends their continued commitment to that effort. DPS also has a responsibility to inform the public about safety and travel risks and threats, and based on the unpredictable nature of cartel violence and other criminal elements, the department urges individuals to avoid travel to Mexico at this time.
There is an active U.S. Department of State Mexico Travel Warning, which includes information about the risks of travel by state. In Matamoros, which is the closest border city to South Padre Island, the specific risks include: gun battles, attacks with explosive devices, and kidnapping. Specific risks are also detailed for Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, and Mazatlan. More...
Safety Update: Italy
The UT International Office is closely monitoring reports of an ISIS threat against Italy. The health and safety of UT travelers remains our highest priority, and we are in regular contact with our study abroad partners in the region. We will update this post with developments, if necessary.
Mexico: Increased activity at Popocatepetl and Colima volcanoes
16 February 2015
This weekend, volcanic activity increased at the Popocatépetl (Mexico, Morelos and Puebla states) and Colima (Colima and Jalisco states) volcanoes. According to International SOS, operations at Puebla’s Hermanos Serdán International Airport (PBC) were temporarily disrupted on Sunday, and Jalisco Civil Protection and Firefighter Unit (UEPC) advised the public to remain alert to ashfall in the vicinity of the Colima volcano. More...
Updated Worldwide Caution
An updated Worldwide Caution has been issued by the U.S. Department of State. This replaces the Worldwide Caution dated October 10, 2014, to provide updated information on the continuing threat of terrorist activities against U.S. citizens and interests worldwide. UT travelers are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance, to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness, and to keep in regular contact with family and friends.
Please read the full contents by clicking here: Worldwide Caution
France: Ongoing hostage situations; rallies
9 January 2015
Events in and around Paris continue to unfold this morning with two separate hostage situations related to Wednesdays attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and to Thursdays shooting of a policewoman. More...
France shooting: Update
8 January 2015
This morning, International SOS released an updated Special Advisory titled “Police officer killed in shooting in south-western suburb; anticipate increased security.” According to ISOS, a police officer was killed and another person was injured when two unidentified men opened fire on them on Avenue Pierre Brossolette in Châtillon. One of the assailants was arrested by the security forces soon afterwards. More...
Safety Update: France - Avoid area around Boulevard Richard Lenoir following fatal shooting
7 January 2015
Earlier today, three armed men killed at least 12 people at a satirical magazine office in Paris today. Police are currently searching for the three gunmen who are believed to be at-large in the north-eastern suburbs of the city. According to International SOS (ISOS), travelers should avoid the area around Boulevard Richard Lenoir and anticipate heightened security. More...
Travel Alert: Worldwide
6 January 2015
On December 19th, the U.S. Department of State issued the Worldwide Travel Alert below following the cafe bombing in Sydney, Australia that took place on December 15th. UT travelers who are currently abroad are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness. More...
Safe Holiday Season Travel
4 December 2014
Are you planning a trip abroad this holiday season? The winter holidays are one of the busiest travel seasons of the year, and many people take advantage of the extended vacation to embark on international travel. Before you leave for the airport, here’s something to keep in mind. More...
South Pacific Tropical Cyclone Season: 2014-2015
10 October 2014
The State Department has issued a Travel Alert warning U.S. citizens traveling in the South Pacific region about the ongoing threat of cyclones affecting the area. The season begins on November 1st and ends on April 30th. Travelers to the region should read the full text of the alert. More...
China: Avoid ongoing protests in Hong Kong
30 September 2014
UT would like to remind all travelers not to get involved in protests while abroad. Protests in Hong Kong are expected to increase over the next week, particularly on 1-2 October, which are public holidays; related demonstrations will also boost the number of participants. More...
Jordan: Coalition strikes against ISIS
24 September 2014
On September 23, 2014 the U.S. Embassy in Jordan published a Security Message for U.S. Citizens regarding the coalition strikes against the Islamic State (ISIS, or ISIL) in Syria. As Jordan is a member of that coalition, the Embassy advises maintaining a heightened level of vigilance while traveling, but states it “has no specific information on increased potential for threats against U.S. Citizens.” However, according to International SOS, “There is an underlying risk both of small-scale opportunistic and large-scale terrorist attack by Islamist extremists.” More...
Update: Ebola outbreak in West Africa – NEW CDC RECOMMENDATIONS
9 September 2014
As recommended by the Ebola prevention guidelines published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UT-Austin strongly urges anyone who has traveled within the past 21 days to countries where Ebola outbreaks are occurring to conduct a short risk assessment.
- UT students should visit the University Health Services website (http://healthyhorns.utexas.edu/) to conduct a risk assessment.
- UT faculty and staff should contact the HealthPoint Occupational Health Program at 512-471-4OHP (4647) to schedule a phone risk assessment appointment.
Be prepared for travel disruption: Bárðarbunga volcano activity in Iceland
26 August 2014
The current level of seismic activity at the Bárðarbunga volcano means flight disruption in Iceland's airspace may occur at short notice if an eruption and associated ash emission occur. More...
UPDATE: Ebola Outbreak in West Africa4 August 2014
The ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa hit the news again last week after a spike in the number of cases. The shocking numbers recently published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1323 cases and 729 deaths as of July 27th) affirm headlines calling this the largest Ebola outbreak in history. These headlines are intimidating, but it is important to remember that it is a rare disease that is not easily contracted. More...
UPDATE: Israeli-Palestinian conflict intensifies
25 July 2014
On July 21, the U.S. Department of State updated an existing Travel Warning for Israel, which recommended that U.S. citizens defer non-essential travel to Israel and the West Bank and reaffirmed the longstanding advisory to U.S. citizens against any travel to the Gaza Strip. Immediately following the issuance of the Travel Warning, a rocket landed near Ben Gurion International Airport on July 22, ultimately causing the FAA to issue a 24-hour ban on U.S. carrier flights to Israel. That ban was extended for another 24 hours on July 23. The situation in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza remains very fluid. More...
Israeli-Palestinian conflict intensifies
8 July 2014
Israeli and Palestinian hostilities have sharply escalated on Tuesday. The Israeli army has said it will launch an offensive operation against the Gaza Strip in response to a surge in rocket attacks on Monday. 1,500 reservists have been called-up with the potential to recall 40,000 additional reservists for a possible ground invasion. You can read more media coverage here and here. We are monitoring the situation very closely, and are in contact with our students in the region. More...
Holy month of Ramadan begins
3 July 2014
The Islamic holy month of Ramadan began last week. During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking and smoking during daylight hours. Travelers in regions with large Muslim populations may notice businesses operating at reduced hours, and that restaurants and cafes are closed during the day. While it is not typically required for non-Muslims to observe Ramadan, eating, drinking, or smoking in public can be considered insensitive, and may incur some form of government sanction in some countries. The period is expected to end around 28-29 July, with a three-day public holiday celebrating Eid-al-Fitr. More...
Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup
6 June 2014
“…11 of the 30 most violent cities in the world are in Brazil; these include seven of the 12 cities that will be hosting matches of the FIFA Football World Cup.” – International SOS
Brazil takes football seriously. There have been 19 FIFA World Cup (FWC) tournaments since 1930, and Brazil is the only nation that competed in all 19, taking home the win 5 times. This year, Brazil will host the 2014 World Cup for the first time in 64 years. The FWC will be hosted in 12 cities across Brazil starting on June 12th. More...
Hurricane Season 2014
30 May 2014
The Department of State has issued a Travel Alert for U.S. citizens about the upcoming Hurricane Season in the Atlantic and Pacific, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico. The alert includes information about season predictions, travel advice, and resources. More...
Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)
14 May 2014
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) is a viral respiratory illness first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Most people with the infection develop severe acute respiratory illness that includes fever, cough, and shortness of breath. MERS-CoV cases surged in April. According to International SOS (ISOS), as of May 10th, so far “520 cases have been reported worldwide, including at least 148 deaths.” Officials do not know where the virus came from or exactly how it spreads, and at this time there is no vaccine. More...
Ebola Outbreak in West Africa
5 May 2014
“This is one of the most challenging Ebola outbreaks that we have ever faced.”
- Assistant Director-General Dr. Keija Fukuda, World Health Organization (WHO)
For just over one month, medical and health organizations worldwide have been tracking an Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Ebola is a rare and extremely contagious virus with a high mortality rate. Symptoms include fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, and appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure. Visit this Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) site for more information about signs and symptoms. More...
17 April 2014
The investigation surrounding the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 has revealed that two passengers were traveling on stolen passports, exposing a lack of passport security screening in airports. Most readers have heard of stolen identification cards; Austin culture is imbued with a rich nightlife which is often only accessed with proof of age. The implications of stolen passports are much broader. According to the Overseas Security Advisory Council, INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble states that “in every major terrorist attack…you can find fraudulent travel documents tied or linked in some way,” and called passport fraud “the biggest threat facing the world.” More...
India: Travel Risks and Safety Concerns
17 March 2014
Many recent headlines about India have focused on the brutal 2012 gang-rape of a woman on a bus in Delhi, and recently on the rape of a Danish woman who was sightseeing in the nation’s capital. According to Human Rights Watch, there has been an increase in reports of sexual assault in recent years, and Business Insider has listed India as the most dangerous country for women to travel. While the focus on women’s safety is important, all travelers to the region should be aware of the various health and safety risks, and how to mitigate them. More...
Spring Break in Mexico: Understanding the risks
5 March 2014
“Nothing in the behavior of Mexican cartels indicates that they would consciously keep tourists out of the line of fire.”
– Stratfor Global Intelligence
Mexico remains the top international destination for students on Spring Break. Each year, UT Austin seeks to remind students about the risks of travel into Mexico, but according to Stratfor Global Intelligence, students often don’t read about the risks before they travel. Stratfor warns that “as a result, many regular visitors to Mexican resort areas believe they are safe from transnational criminal organizations, more commonly known as cartels.” Additionally, Stratfor writes that “there is a misconception that cartels want to avoid interfering with the profitable tourism industry, or that they only target Mexican citizens. This simply is not true.” More...
“All That You Should Leave Behind”
27 February 2014
When it’s time to start packing for your trip abroad, it can be overwhelming trying to decide what to take. What some people forget to think about is what not to take. The TSA Prohibited Items page is a great way to find out what not to take on the plane as you leave the U.S., but what about what you shouldn’t have when you arrive in your destination? Luckily, the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) recently published the following essay to help travelers start thinking about what they should leave behind. Read the article...
Carnival Safety Update
21 February 2014
If you’re in South America this semester, you’re probably very aware that it’s Carnival season! In fact, many countries around the world hold festivities to mark the period before the Catholic observance of Lent. Carnival typically involves a public celebration or parade combining some elements of a circus, mask, and public street party. People often dress up or masquerade during the celebrations, which marks an overturning of daily life. The largest celebrations will be in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where almost 500 parades will take place all over the city, drawing close to 5 million people between February 28 and March 4. More...
US Department of State and International SOS Issue Travel Alerts for Egypt
6 February 2014
On January 30, the US Department of State updated its Egypt Travel Alert, cautioning US citizens about the risks of traveling to Egypt posed by the country’s continuing political and social unrest. Subsequently, International SOS released travel alerts for Egypt, cautioning travelers about the increased risk of unrest during the trial of former president Morsi and other key dates likely to have increased activism. Both the US Department of State and International SOS strongly advise travelers to avoid all demonstrations and to exercise caution in areas susceptible to protest. More...
Are the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games Safe? US Department of State Issues Travel Alert for the Games
30 January 2014
Recent suicide bombings at a train station and on a trolley bus in Russia heightened worries regarding the safety of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, which will take place February 7 – March 16. Moreover, uneasiness over the treatment of LGBT athletes and fans persists since a law banning “LGBT propaganda” passed in June 2013. Addressing these concerns and others, the US Department of State issued a Travel Alert on January 10 (that was revised on January 24) advising U.S. citizens attending the games to “remain attentive about their personal security at all times.” More...
Israel: Travel Risks and Safety Concerns
17 January 2014
Israel has been making major headlines over the last several weeks, with the death of former Prime Minister and controversial public figure Ariel Sharon, major protests by African immigrants, and the ongoing peace talks between Israel and Palestine pushed by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Additionally, there have been more clashes between Israeli settlers and Palestinians in the West Bank and between Lebanon and the Israeli army. Meanwhile, Israel stays cautious about spillover effects and political repercussions from the major political upheavals in bordering countries Egypt and Syria. More...
Panama: Dengue transmission reaches epidemic levels
7 January 2014
On Friday, January 3, International SOS sent out a medical alert warning that Dengue transmission has reached epidemic levels in Panama. It states, "Panama City Metropolitan Region and the province of Bocas del Toro are most affected. The disease is spread by mosquitoes, and is present in both rural and urban areas. Dengue can cause a range of symptoms and has no particular treatment. Some people, especially those who have been infected before, get a more severe form that can lead to fatal complications." More...
Staying Healthy & Safe This Holiday Travel Season
11 December 2013
Are you planning a trip abroad this holiday season? The winter holidays are one of the busiest travel seasons of the year, and many people take advantage of the extended vacation to embark on international travel. As you plan out your activities and scope out the best restaurants and museums, make sure to spend some time researching and planning for your health and safety, too. More...
Crime Trends and Safety in Latin America
2 December 2013
From the snowcapped mountains of the Patagonia and the jungles of the Amazon to the historical wonders of Machu Picchu and Tikal to the many rich and diverse cultures throughout the region, it is no wonder that Latin America is a popular destination for UT students, whether studying abroad, conducting research, or just traveling for pleasure. While thousands of U.S. citizens and others throughout the world travel to Latin America without incident, UT travelers should be aware of common trends in crime and the associated risks, and heed appropriate cautions. More...
11 October 2013
It’s October, and many students are preparing for travel abroad this winter or next spring. Students traveling for any UT-related purpose to a UT Restricted Region need to request International Oversight Committee review. More...
Turkey: New State Department Travel Warning
6 September 2013
A new U.S. Department of State Travel Warning has been issued for Turkey, to warn U.S. citizens that "the U.S. Consulate General in Adana has been authorized to draw down its non-emergency staff and family members because of threats against U.S. government facilities and personnel." The Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens defer non-essential travel to southeastern Turkey. More...
Planning for a safe trip
30 August 2013
A few weeks ago, the U.S. Department of State issued a short-term worldwide travel alert about the "continued potential threat for terrorist attacks." That alert expires this weekend, but it’s important for travelers to continue to maintain awareness of ongoing travel risks. More...
Quarterly updates to Restricted Regions List
14 August 2013
The UT Restricted Regions List undergoes a thorough quarterly review (although the list may be updated year-round, as conditions warrant). When planning your travel abroad, it is always important to check online for the most current Restricted Regions List. More...
Brazil: Security operations in northern Rio de Janeiro; reprisals by criminal gangs possible
7 August 2013
Violence in Rio de Janeiro is usually associated with what International SOS (ISOS) calls "deprived urban areas," or slums. Known as "favelas" in Portuguese, these areas are rated as HIGH risk regions. According to ISOS, security forces frequently conduct raids targeting favelas in an attempt to crack down on organized criminal gangs and evict drugs and arms traffickers. These raids entail a persistent risk of firefights between the two sides as well as reprisal attacks by gang members. More...
Update: U.S. diplomatic mission closures extended until 10 August
5 August 2013
The U.S. Department of State has announced that many of the diplomatic missions closed over the weekend will remain so through 10 August. These include Amman (Jordan), Cairo (Egypt), Riyadh, Dhahran, and Jeddah (all Saudi Arabia), Doha (Qatar), Kuwait City (Kuwait), Manama (Bahrain), Muscat (Oman), Tripoli (Libya), Antananarivo (Madagascar), Bujumbura (Burundi), Djibouti City (Djibouti), Khartoum (Sudan), Kigali (Rwanda), Port Louis (Mauritius), Abu Dhabi and Dubai (United Arab Emirates (UAE)), Sanaa (Yemen), and Dhaka (Bangladesh). More...
Travel Alert: Worldwide
2 August 2013
The U.S. Department of State has issued the Worldwide Travel Alert below about the continued potential for terrorist attacks, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa. UT travelers who are currently abroad are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness. If you are currently abroad and find yourself in need of immediate assistance please contact International SOS anytime 24/7 at 1-215-942-8226 (main line) or 1-215-942-8478 (dedicated scholastic hotline), or call UTPD at 512-471-4441. More...
Embassy closures due to unspecified security threat: Middle East, North Africa, Asia
2 August 2013
The U.S. Department of State has announced that a number of U.S. embassies and consulates that are normally open for business on Sundays – mostly in the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia – will be closed on 4 August as a precaution due to an unspecified security threat.
Accordingly, all U.S. diplomatic missions in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Mauritania, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Yemen will be closed on the day. Some closures may be extended beyond Sunday. More...
Updated Travel Warning for Mexico
16 July 2013
On 12 July, the U.S. Department of State updated the Travel Warning for Mexico "to consolidate and update information about the security situation and to advise the public of additional restrictions on the travel of U.S. government (USG) personnel." State-by-state assessments of security conditions throughout Mexico are given to help understand regional threats. More...
Holy month of Ramadan begins
8 July 2013
The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is expected to commence on 8 or 9 July (depending on the sighting of the moon). Muslims abstain from eating, drinking and smoking during daylight hours during Ramadan. Travelers in regions with large Muslim populations may notice businesses operating at reduced hours, and that restaurants and cafes are closed during the day. More...
Egypt: Clashes ahead of 30 June protests highlight need to review travel plans
27 June 2013
Travelers to Egypt ahead of the first anniversary of President Mohammed Morsi's inauguration on 30 June are advised to review their travel plans, in view of a rise in social unrest. According to International SOS, one person was killed and more than 200 were injured on 26 June in clashes between Morsi's supporters and opponents in Mansoura (Dakahlia governorate). A rally by thousands of supporters of Islamist political parties turned violent as it was intercepted by secular protesters; the police fired tear gas but were unable to effectively contain the unrest. More...
Brazil: Nationwide protests cause travel disruption, potential for violence
18 June 2013
The U.S. Department of State Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) reports that on Monday, 11 Brazilian cities were impacted by some of the largest protests seen in 20 years. A recent report stated that, “while the protesters represented multiple causes, they were primarily focused on a rise in bus fare, public expenditure around the Confederations and 2014 World Cup, excessive use of force by police, inequity, nepotism, and corruption in Brazil.” Crowds varied in each city, from 3,000 in Brasilia to 65,000 in Sao Paulo, and nearly 100,000 in Rio de Janeiro. More...
Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)
11 June 2013
A novel coronavirus called “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus” (MERS-CoV) has been identified in several Middle East and European countries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “coronaviruses are common worldwide. They usually cause colds.” However, since its discovery in 2012, MERS-CoV has infected over 50 people and has resulted in over 30 deaths. More...
New Travel Alert: Turkey
6 June 2013
On 4 June the U.S. Department of State issued a new Travel Alert for Turkey about the the continuing public demonstrations taking place throughout the country. There have been numerous reports of violence, injuries, and at least two confirmed deaths resulting from or related to clashes between protestors and Turkish law enforcement authorities. U.S. citizens are urged to remain alert to local security developments and to be vigilant regarding their personal security. More...
Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens: Protests throughout Turkey
Update: 3 June 2013
The U.S. Embassy informs U.S. citizens that public demonstrations are taking place throughout Turkey at varying times and with little notice. Violent altercations have occurred in Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir, Adana, Mersin, and elsewhere. The continuing protests in Istanbul are centered on the Taksim and Besiktas areas, but others may occur elsewhere in the city as well. More...
Flooding, heavy rainfall to persist in central Europe
3 June 2013
Reports on 3 June (Telegraph, Spiegel, Al Jazeera), indicate that thousands of people have been evacuated from several parts of central Europe due to heavy rainfall and consequent flooding, particularly in the Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Significant disruption to overland travel is expected to persist as further rainfall is forecast in the coming days in the region. More...
3 June 2013
Protests last week against plans for commercial redevelopment of a park in Istanbul escalated into violent demonstrations in several Turkish cities over a range of social issues this weekend. Clashes between demonstrators and the police increased, resulting in alleged injuries from tear-gas canisters and water cannon. More...
Hurricane Season 2013
31 May 2013
The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the upcoming Hurricane Season in the Atlantic, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico. The alert includes information abo