This Week In Travel And Health

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Let’s begin this week with a troubling report from the medical journal Nature. The well-respected publication reports that the international effort to monitor various flu viruses is full of holes. Nature analyzed data from around the world and found that avian flu surveillance is “ad hoc and reactive” – usually in response to disease outbreaks or temporary research projects. In short, there is no sustained, coordinated effort to control potential pandemic outbreaks.

As a traveler, there isn’t anything you can really do to change the situation (unless you happen to be a researcher or scientist focused on influenza outbreaks), but you can keep your radar up and take smart precautions before traveling globally. And you certainly shouldn’t close up your house and refuse to venture outside.

No doubt you heard about the Jet Blue pilot who, well… lost it this week, raving about 9/11 and terrorists before he was subdued by passengers. Pilot Clayton Osbon had a spotless reputation before the incident and a lot of his colleagues say they don’t know what to think about it. USA Today examines the incident and wonders if Osbon’s apparent breakdown should be treated as a warning sign that pilots may have too much freedom in a post-9/11 climate.

You know about the Costa Concordia disaster several months ago, but did you know that traveling to see the “wreckage” has become very popular? It’s part of a trend detailed at Travel Weekly on Dark Tourism, in which tourists travel to see the sites of horrific events. Popular dark tourist destinations include the Killing Fields of Cambodia and New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Here’s a cool story and photo gallery at CNNGO about the second act for airplanes after they’re taken out of the sky.

You might think that you’ve found the perfect gift in some out of the way marketplace when you’re traveling abroad, but will you be able to bring it home? At USA Today, Nancy Trejos examines what you can and can’t bring back through customs.

Expat Health has a story that’ll be good news for expatriates – a brain study done by researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center appears to show that full immersion in a language is the best way to learn the language. In short, the study shows that adult language-learners who are fully immersed in the language may be able to achieve the same type of processing of the language as native speakers.

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