Ugh: I Got The Flu While Traveling

Filed Under: Travel

I’ve been extremely lucky when it comes to my health, especially given that I travel virtually nonstop. I’ve never had food poisoning, have never had a major medical scare, and never got seriously injured.

Well, I guess there’s a first time for everything.

Tiffany and I have been traveling since last Tuesday. On Tuesday we flew from Detroit to Beijing, and on Wednesday we flew from Beijing to Bangkok. At the time I wrote about how I slept from takeoff until touchdown on that second flight, which was the first time in my life where that happened. I was insanely fatigued. I figured it was just part of getting older and that I can’t handle crazy trips the way I used to be able to.

But then the next morning I woke up in Bangkok and felt like death. The same was true the following day. I slept for 14+ hours each of those days. To my surprise I felt almost back to normal by day three, which was also the day we flew from Bangkok to Hong Kong.

The next morning I woke up in Hong Kong and felt the worst I’ve probably ever felt. I didn’t leave bed for 24 hours, and had aches and pains in ways I’ve never felt before. I was so happy to have Tiffany with me, as she did an amazing job taking care of me (though I feel horribly, since this is our second major trip in a row where I’ve been sick the entire time).

I do everything I can to avoid visiting doctors, though I was feeling so bad that I asked to see one. The hotel arranged for a doctor to come to my room, since I couldn’t even walk. He gave me a test for the flu, and sure enough, I tested positive for Influenza B. On the plus side, that’s apparently the less serious version of the flu. However, this also means that I’ll be weak for quite a while.

In total I slept for almost 48 hours straight (aside from the short break to see the doctor), and I still can’t really function. This morning I got up to pee and ended up collapsing on the bathroom floor because I was so dizzy.

Given that the flu can last for weeks, this of course presents a tough situation. Do I just stay in Hong Kong till I’m fully recovered (which could be quite some time), or do I try to fly back to the US on a nonstop flight? Obviously I won’t be taking the five segment routing I had initially booked.

For now we’re playing it by ear. If I start to feel a little better, then I’d feel comfortable enough taking the nonstop flight to the US in Cathay Pacific first class, since I figure I can just sleep the whole way. But otherwise I’m basically just locking myself in this room until I’m feeling better.

PS: Completely unrelated to everything else, I’m still trying to figure out exactly what kind of an on-call doctor the hotel arranged for me. His business card indicated that he was a “Specialist in Emergency Medicine,” but the bottom of his business card said “#Cosmetic #Gene #Vaccine #Sex.” Um, #WTF?

Bottom line

I’m grateful that I’ve had such good luck when traveling, given all the horror stories I’ve heard of people getting sick abroad.

While I’ve never felt as crappy as I do right now, I’m grateful to have Tiffany here, because I’d probably feel very alone if I were this far from family and all by myself. Suffice to say that our itinerary from Asia back to the US being on three separate tickets wasn’t ideal when it came time to make changes.

Have you ever gotten seriously sick while traveling? How did you handle it?

  1. @Lucky sorry to hear you have the flu. My parents flew to Taiwan in January, contracted the flu on the return flight, and ended up giving the flu to my wife, my infant son, and myself. It took us 2 weeks to fully recover! If you can afford it, I strongly recommend staying in place until you are no longer contagious. This is not the way you want to go viral and you will be doing a great service to others for not spreading the flu.

  2. How have you been posting regularly the last few days then? Do you have a stack on non-time-critical posts ready to go for times like this?

  3. Hope you get well soon!!! How did you pay for the doctor? Any card perks that would apply to a situation like this?

  4. Ben,

    get checked out by a real doc. Have the hotel taxi take you to Hong Kong Sanatorium (best place in town). I’d personally stay in HK, drink plenty of fluids, water, tea and soup and head back home when you feel healthier.

    First class or not, flying with the flu REALLY sucks and is frankly very inconsiderate to fellow passengers who you might infect.

    Get better quickly dear Ben!

  5. Hopefully you got some Tamiflu (oseltamivir) but it’s only effective if you take within 48 hours of symptoms. And stay hydrated with all those flights. That’s your biggest danger. As far as the #sex ‍♂️ Bonus?! Lol

  6. Sorry to hear about your sickness, looks pretty bad. Hope you recover fully and fast.

    I would not travel as you can not only spread it further but also your healing process will take longer. Try to stay put in HK if you can.

    Also check your travel insurance policy whether it covers sudden illness – ie. DR, including further hotel and flight costs. Also some insurance companies may cover some costs for 1 person staying behind with you…

  7. Are your type of flu infectious though? People staying in the same sealed tube with you the entire 15 hours can all get sick. Just be mindful of that..

  8. I live in suburb and that’s why I always wear surgical mask in a confined space, especially with 100 or more people for a long time. I believe people in Asia remember the In-flight transmission of SARS in 2002.

  9. I have little kids, and on our last 3 international trips we had to have visits from doctors with medicine prescribed. Each time we submitted claims to the travel insurance we got through my Chase Sapphire Reserve. The process is relatively easy (as easy as insurance submission can be) and each time they paid the claim (with a small deductible) with no problem. I think we just needed to submit a copy of my credit card statement showing where I paid for part of the trip with the Chase card (they told me the insurance is good too if you used Ultimate Rewards for the trip, but YYMV), and a receipt from the doctor, a copy of their form with everything filled out, and a form from the doctor with the diagnosis and recommended treatment. I just scanned everything and emailed it to them, and got a check within a few weeks. Lucky, maybe you can show the process of submitting a claim to Chase in a future post.

  10. Hi Ben, I”m so sorry to hear you’re feeling unwell. Go to the Hong Kong Sanitorium and Hospital’s Outpatient department in Happy Valley, and remember to bring your passport. They are great! I take my foreign friends there all the time. (Chinese is 香港養和醫院). open 24 hours, with less doctors staffing the overnight shifts.

    Or, go to Dr. Y.K Wong. Trained in England, most western kids like going to him. Hes mainly a doctor for general pediatrics, but I’m 25 and I still keep going to him. He is the most well respected pediatrics doctor in all of Hong Kong. phone number: 2578 5158 or 2578 5633. Hours: 10 – 12:30 pm, 4-6 pm Mon, Tues, Thurs, and Fri.

    Address: Room 1505, Hang Seng North Point Building, 341 King’s Road, North Point, Hong Kong (it’s in North Point on HK Island)

    Chinese address for taxi driver: 香港北角英皇道341號恒生銀行大廈1505室

    Let me know if you need any help!

  11. That’s so sad and it is something that i fear the MOST while traveling.
    The body is so wise that you feel so tired, the MOST IMPORTANT thing in that cases is to have as much rest as you can, so it doesn’t complicate to bacterial infection (which sadly is really easy if your are traveling and sleep deprived).

    I’m sorry for Tiffany too.. hope she doesn’t get it!

    My sincere recommendation is to try to stay there for a couple of days with PLENTY of rest, water, soups, teas and citrus fruits. And if you don’t feel like you are improving go straight to the US and get a blood test to check if you need antibiotics (NEVER EVER take them without confirmation of the need via blood test and or clinical evaluation).

    Hope you get well soon!

  12. I won’t suggest you to fly with a flu, so I suggest you to stay in Hongkong till your better. It’s chinese New Year time anyway, there’s plenty of good food, some only available during CNY only, like Lo Hei, also there be lion/dragon dance you can watch and enjoy. You can even buy some cheap CNY stuff at cheap price now as it be on clearance as souvenirs.

  13. Ben( Not so Lucky this time 🙂
    If I was in your shoes I would wait it out in one of the nice hotels
    you always seem to stay in until it is wise/safe to move on and proceed with your Journey

    Drink lots of fluids take plenty of vitamins and eat as healthy best you can Fruits vegetables protein etc Whatever you can handle at this point
    The last thing you want to do is die! By not getting proper rest you run the risk of all kinds of complications and people do die from the flu all the time of every age.
    As a global jet setter despite all you know about travel I don’t think you realize the vulnerability of the traveling public.This is not the time to worry about change fees and re-bookings
    Let Tiff handle the details and work on your recovery!

    Its important when you are healthy to get proper rest and work out at a gym even the most basic level of strength/circuit training and get a massage at the spa to increase circulation (of course not now)
    If you don’t do some of these things long term you aren’t going to age well and be as sharp in mind and body as you would like.The 20s go very quickly and you will soon be in your 30s
    Best Wishes for a speedy recovery and return to all things Lucky!

  14. Happened to me when I was flying TG F from BKK to HKG. Felt terrible, checked into the W, and stayed in my room for a week. You should absolutely not travel with influenza. Not only will you get where’s, but you will be spreading your germs to others. Just stay at the hotel till you recover.

  15. You should get well in HK. If you are going to travel in your situation, you are going to infect other passangers and airline employees.

  16. Sucks to get sick while traveling. I flew home from London last year with a fever. Even in J I was miserable the entire flight.

    Poor Tiffany is going to start to wonder about you jinxing her trips if you keep getting sick when she’s with you.

    Get well soon.

  17. Be careful, several friends have ended up with secondary pneumonia and also a young woman in her 20’s died from the flu when she started feeling better. Also next time Tamiflu within 24 hours will knock it out.

  18. I had it while traveling in January. I spent seven days pretty much in my hotel room in Bangkok. I did go to the Bumrungrad Hospital Clinic which was quite impressive. Later that month the symptoms felt like they were coming back and I visited a clinic in Singapore Changi Airport.

    I had an overwhelming desire to sleep which sounds like your situation. One option is to buy a face mask as a courtesy to fellow travelers and crawl on Cathay and go home. You will sleep nearly all the way home.

  19. It is time to take advantage of the many travel incident benefits of your CC card. See if they can fly you back to the states so you can see a doctor. Also, you can write about insurance while travel abroad. Do that after you feel better. Get well soon!

  20. At least minimize your proximity to potential flu sufferers by avoiding anyone who is sniffling, sneezing, and (worst of all) coughing up their lungs. Even when it means going to the back of a line or changing seats. It’s no guarantee of avoiding illness but has helped keep me flu-free despite extensive traveling during flu season.

  21. Seriously dude, man up. It’s just the flu. It’s typical American attitude that if you fall a tiny bit ill, you need a doctor to come to your hotel immediately.
    Influenza B is ridiculously common and even old grannies are able to cope so just man up.
    Though well done for Tiffany for having to deal with a drama queen on holiday – I certainly don’t have the patience for that

  22. Hi Lucky,
    This happened to me two years ago in HK. I got bronchitis after my daughter recovered from Tonsillitis in Da Nang (fun times!) .
    Does Hong Kong Airport security still have the right to do random health checks? Something to consider…

  23. @ Biokozy – Obviously it would be best for Lucky to recover fully before traveling but if that’s not possible he can at least wear a mask to reduce the chances of transmission. They’re so commonplace in Asia that he shouldn’t feel self-conscious wearing one. Actually, if people in Western countries would get past their hang ups about wearing surgical type masks in public, there would be fewer cases of the flu over here.

  24. @Lucky you must have went there at the wrong time, as it is the flu season now in HK… sucks that you got sick… take care and I hope you had a great time in HK anyways

  25. Irionically the sickest I ever was in Bangkok during Songkaran 2009. I couldn’t even get out of bed. I was convinced I was going to die in that bed. It took weeks to recover

  26. Stay put – you’ll just end up spreading it to others. Not to mention, you should stay fully hydrated when you have the flu, something that is pretty much the opposite on a 16 hour flight from Hong Kong, not to mention the possibility have having to divert if the crew finds out and feels you are too sick to fly.

    There are certainly worse places to be stuck for a week than HKG.

  27. Ben, it sounds like you got a serious case of Influenza. I would suggest you staying in HK to recover. Typically flu is contagious for 5-7 days after the symptoms. The main problem is not the flu virus itself but secondary infections one could get when the immune system is overloaded with flu. When you travel with flu you are getting more chances of getting some other bugs/viruses. Getting into a closed space with other people like an airplane with re-circulating air is one of the worst ideas when you feel very weak.
    So protect yourself as well as fellow passengers and stay in HK till feeling better.

  28. Sorry to hear that. Get well soon. You probably should stay out.

    Always enjoy reading the blog, especially some of the asisine comments.

  29. Get well soon.

    But also be considerate to other passengers and crew. Don’t spread your flu around by flying in an enclosed tube for more than 12 hours. Especially when your other option is staying in HK, where English is widely understood and some of the best health care can be found in the world.

  30. Stay where you are until you are no longer contagious. Don’t be the jerk who travels on a plane while sick and infects everyone else ruining their holidays. Didn’t bother with the flu shot this year? Seems crazy for someone who travels as much as you do not to have one. People will babble about how its not extremely effective at prevention and that may be true but it still has a good chance at lessening the length/severity.

  31. @Trevor 2nd that CSR insurance claim was relatively painless.

    I booked a hiking trip in Japan last October during typhoon LAN. I was in Osaka on Sunday to start my trip on Monday and decided to bag it when I saw all the news coming in. Filed a claim with chase in Japan and then sent them proof of payment, cancellation policy, US State dept travel warning and airlines waive of change fee notices after I got back to SF. I received a check in a week or so.

  32. Get well soonest Ben. Better you stay abit longer until you’re really fit to fly back. Being on such a long flight while sick is nothing you want to experience.
    And there are worse places to be sick at than HK

  33. Hello Lucky,

    I am in the same situation as you at the moment. Being with your loved ones can also play a huge part in your recovery. Whenever you feel better put a mask on and go home:)

  34. Get well soon but please say still. Don’t expose a whole other aircraft full of people to what you have. It’s miserable to be sick away from home but recovering in place is probably best in this case.

  35. Hope you feel better.
    About a year ago (in December of 2016) I went to South Asia to see family. The night before I got the flu and my routing took me about 40 hours to get there (and I couldn’t sleep the entire way). When I got there I slept for a whole 24 hours without waking up.

  36. @Lucky and @Tiffany: I commented on a specific treatment option for the flu and my post was flagged for “moderation” and it has not appeared since. Any reason for that?

  37. Get well soon. I’ve said this time and time again. No amount of first class can compensate for poor health. I’d get well before flying.

  38. Stay where you are, enjoy the many different kinds of soup that can be brought to you in Hong Kong. Bad flu is miserable and I couldn’t imaging dragging myself to chep lap kok let alone all the way back to the US.

    You’ll get some good content tellling is how you claimed this all back on travel insurance.

    Lucky you don’t get hauled off to medical quarantine on one of your landings. A colleague has a story about landing at PVG with a temperature and getting hauled off to medical jail in Pudong, he was terrified.

  39. Sorry to hear Lucky is sick. So unlucky.

    If you must fly (try not to), then wash hands often, wear a paper mask.

  40. To echo what many others have said: feel better, and PLEASE do not bring your flu onto a closed metal tube for 16 hours. Think of the crew and other passengers.

  41. I got really sick in Japan once, in a place that English was not really spoken and where the sort of comfort foods and so on weren’t available. Didn’t feel great, but felt worse when I had to move the next day to a Ryokan where no-one spoke English and we’d booked a full Japanese banquet (including lobster sashimi) and I felt awful the whole time. Even now – fifteen years later – the smell of miso soup makes me fill ill…..

  42. I think commenter Ben (not lucky)has never had the flu. The flu is not the cold, it’s not a bad cold, it’s quite serious. I’ve had it only once in my life and I can assure you you’ can’t “man up” people die of the flu ever year. You have to take care of yourself.

  43. Had it for the first time ever last year and I was at home, cannot imagine being on the road. Unfortunately now you have joined the legions of people who have had the real influenza to say, “please don’t casually say you have the flu, you didn’t have the flu unless you feel like you died.” It is the worst. Hope you feel better soon.

  44. Getting sick while traveling is THE WORST. I feel sorry for you and wish you a speedy recovery. Please don’t put yourself through a long transpacific flight when you are so weak and run-down. Just stay in bed in Hong Kong and chalk-up the growing hotel expense to S**t Happens. You’re blessed that Tiffany is there to take care of you.

    I was once deliriously ill in a two-star hotel in Naples, Italy. I kept phoning downstairs and asking for someone to please send me some aspirin. I kept calling all day (while burning-up with fever). Finally I received an exasperated phone call from the hotel manager asking WHO was this “Signore Aspirin”? And what room was he in? (I definitely needed a Tiffany…)

    When I was finally well enough to fly home to New York I must have still looked awful because The Alitalia gate agent in Rome took my Economy boarding pass, tore it up, and printed me a new one: seat 1A in First Class. And she blocked the seat next to me!

  45. Sorry to hear you got the flu; I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy! I came down with it in late January, day 4 of a 7 day cruise. Those body aches you talked about? I hear ya….my deepest sympathies. High fever, exhaustion, and a cough that wouldn’t quit. I went to Urgent care less than 8 hours after being home, surprise – pneumonia. Then a week later, sinusitis, by then it was week 3 of the crud. I have never been sick like this in my life, and yes, I got my flu shot. I’m headed into week 4 and finally feel myself again. Seek medical treatment if you need it, keep up on the fluids, and rest; that’s all you can really do. I hope you get well soon!

  46. @ anon — Hong Kong doctors seem to mostly be Western-educated/credentialed. The fee for the visit (coming to the hotel on a holiday weekend) was ~$200. There were some other charges for the flu test, and some ridiculous fees for an assortment of medications.

  47. @ Andre — The hotel coordinated with the doctor, and let us charge it to the room. There might be some opportunities to claim some of this stuff through a credit card policy, but first we have to figure out what parts of this trip were charged to what cards, etc. The overall itinerary started at 9 sets of tickets, so there’s a lot.

  48. @ Dan Allen — Fortunately it’s pretty easy for us to get back to the US from Hong Kong at the last-minute, so we’ll just use miles.

  49. Hope you get better soon Lucky(though there are worse places to be stuck than hong kong) also what hotel are you staying at based on the picture I would the renaissance.

  50. @ Daniel B. — The consensus was that it was too late for Tamiflu. It has to be taken in the first 24-48 hours, and he saw the doctor at the end of day 5.

  51. Last year this time I arrived in Finland feeling quite tired. Before I even blinked, I became delirious, trying to get out to roll in the snow to cool off. An ambulance was called and I was admitted to a hospital and given a single room in isolation. Excellent care beginning to end.
    When I left I asked the doctor whether this was: ‘just the flu, right?’
    He put his head in his hands and said: “Typically American!” He continued that the Finns were more fanatical about saving money on healthcare “than even the Americans — we just do better.”
    He continued that if I even went into a pharmacy for aspirin I was likely to infect five others. He said the cost of that was much greater than my stay in the hospital. Even Finns won’t stay home and protect others — everyone thinks he/she is soooooo special. So as national policy they have found it is much cheaper to urge people to come in for treatment and then “in prison” them for a couple of days. I was administered Tamiflu and six meals a day in a pleasant private room.
    He reminded me that a big international airport is a “cross-cultural exchange” of microbes and germs. “You went to Heathrow” he said accusingly! Who knows where my particular flu came from.

  52. @ Aaron @ AlexD @ Norman @ Kevin @ Alex_77W @ David @ John @ Bill @ CF Frost @ CJ — Yeah, I canceled all our other reservations, the hotel is being gracious about allowing us to extend day-by-day, and we certainly won’t travel until he starts to feel significantly better.

    The consensus of both the doctor in Hong Kong and the one we FaceTimed in the U.S. is that he’s on day 6 or 7 at this point, and so the risk of contagion has gone down. Unfortunately, that means he was contagious on the flights to Toronto, Detroit, Beijing, Bangkok, and Hong Kong, so probably has some bad karma headed his way.

    I’m still going to go hunt for a Hello Kitty mask for him to wear on the flight home though 😉

  53. @ Ben — My Ben isn’t being dramatic at all, and is shockingly being one of the sweetest and lowest-maintenance sick people I’ve ever dealt with. And clearly you’ve never had a legitimate case of influenza.

  54. Hope you get well soon!

    Speaking of Hong Kong – looking for advice/opinions. Used Alaska mileage to book O/W F on CX lax to maldives next January. As ticketed, we fly on CX on separate flights (PM departures that leave 90 minutes apart) -both in F both in 1A on respective flights. I can ticket one of us in C on the same flight so we are on same aircraft, but wondering if separate on the segment is better if we are in F, considering we might not be able to mingle if on same flight but in C and F. We have airfaree nights in HKG then we fly together in C to Male. If last minute F opens up figure can switch the other ticket – but if not, at least we are in F, if separated for the long haul segment but close departures apart – any chance at check-in they would switch us to be together if flight had open seat?

  55. @ Ben — Yes, though not as many as I would like! Andrew B. and I have been trying to write a few extra posts as well to ease the burden, but Ben is a ridiculously fast writer, so has been able to do quite a bit of writing in the intervals where he’s awake now that he’s starting to feel better.

  56. Ben, you may consider waiting until you feel better. Hours in a confined space means you may spread this flu like crazy.

  57. Get well soon. Being sick away from home sucks. I’m not someone who usually wants people around me when I’m sick but in this case It would be nice to have someone with me.

    I have to admit when I’m really sick, I miss my mom who was always there for us as kids when we were sick. And I’m many decades past my childhood.

    I’m confused with the tamiflu suggestions. Take it within 1-2 days? I think most of us try to fight through sickness and probably wouldn’t immediately run to a doctor unless it lingered and got worse.

    I just hope as Ben improves, tiffany doesn’t start to get sick. They could be in hk for a while.

  58. If you at all think you have the flu, and trust me you will know, you can (but certainly don’t have to) go to the Dr and get Tamiflu. Have to do it within 2 days or its ineffective. It definitely lessened (not cured) my symptoms within 24 hours. It didn’t help my husband (he was patient zero) and he went on to get bronchitis, pneumonia, sinusitis and just overall took him about a month to get back to normal. So as with many things: YMMV.

  59. Bummer to hear it Lucky! The flu is particularly bad this year, so if your symptoms become worse, make sure to get some Tamiflu and see the doc again.

    Tiffany, I’m surprised they didn’t offer it to you as prophylaxis. Remember that you can be contagious 24-48 hours before you get more serious symptoms, so if you’re feeling a bit run down or have a small cough, get checked out and don’t fly!

    Being away and sick is just awful, but at least you two are in a city with excellent and safe medical care. Feel better!

  60. Do you have a flu shot each year? Given you travel around the world constantly it’s a must! The flu vaccine is adjusted constantly to take into account regular variations of the strains circulating, and the good news is that the annual protection is cumulative, giving you impressive immunity to many strains which re-appear periodically. Personally, I can’t remember when I last had even a minor bout of flu, and I’m talking a couple of decades, not a year or two!
    For those readers contemplating a first flu shot, try to have it 10-14 days before you travel, as you don’t have full immunity til then. Also, if you are a delicate petal you may feel a bit seedy for 48 hrs after the vaccination, but this is actually good as it’s a sign your body is producing the desired antibodies to give you protection!

  61. @ KW — I got the flu shot, have a pretty robust immune system, and have been taking lots of precautions with hand-washing and so forth. That’s not a bad idea though, I’ll see if I can get some.

  62. Not sure of the best place to find masks in HK but front desk might be able to advise. If US they easily are purchased at most drug stores/pharmacies. Our local hospital passes them out to visitors on request. I have a friend who always wore a mask whenflying or even on a driving trip because she’d been through chemo treatment and her immune system was compromised. She said it worked like a charm because people assumed SHE was contagious rather than realizing that she was protcting herself from others. I’ve tuckd a couple into my carry-on ever since just in case there’s a sneezing, coughing, sniffling person around (and it’s a much larger radius than most of us realize).also good for dusty drives or heavy smog! BTW, I’m reallly not a hypochondriac! Get eell soon, Lucky!

  63. Hope you get well soon. Flu season really sucks this year. At home my wife and two kids that never travel got the flu shots. I travel like crazy and didn’t have time to get mine. Well, in the last two months my wife and both kids got the flu at 3 weeks apart and I did not. We were lucky they were diagnosed quickly and got Tamiflu right away. Similar to you the worst is to get sick when you are away. Once it happened to me in Kuala Lumpur where I got an extreme case of food poisoning. After spending two days crawling from the bed to the bathroom at the Mandarin Oriental in KL with a visit from a doctor in the hotel room I lost over 6lbs and finally flew back home on CX first class where all I had was water and bread. 🙁 I know it is not a convenient thing to do but I am considering using one of those surgical masks that many Asians use while traveling since I can only imagine what recirculates in the air of a 15 hour flight.

  64. @KW~ Tamiflu at the advanced stage of Ben’s illness will be 100% useless. It needs to be taken within 48hrs of the first flu-like symptoms. It will only reduce the nasty effects and reduce the length of illness. Worth taking at the right time, but not the magic pill some seem to think it is.

  65. @glenn t: while a flu shot helps this year’s version was probably the less effective in many years. There are several articles talking about it since it really didn’t do much to protect people. My wife and both kids got the flu shot and all got the flu and were treated with Tamiflu. I did not get a flu shot and luckily did not get flu. Go figure!!!!

  66. I have health insurance with a Blue Cross company.

    When I travel, I go to their international website where I find English speaking doctors in each of the cites visited.

    I store all that as PDFs, on my phone and in the cloud, per city.

    It all paid off when by devoted wife was bit by a street monkey in Cambodia.

  67. Been doing travel health amongst other things for a few decades.
    First Bangkok is an international center for care-folk go to either there or Singapore for care in SE Asia and also perhaps Malaysia if cost is vital.
    They are accredited and going to HK would be counter productive as folk travel from HK for care that is more complex(not a criticism-HK healthcare is tip top).
    yes HK docs are trained in the UK style(as are Singapore ones generally though some now American style via NUS/DUKE medical school hook up)and are fine for this event.
    As are the docs in Bangkok.
    Your test was presumably a naso pharyngeal swab and you were probably started on Tamiflu as folk have said-it lowers symptoms in length by about one to two days on average-sounds little if you don’t have flu but a blessing if you do.
    You will be infective for about one to two weeks and feel rough for same.
    Of course you have travel insurance(CC,policy etc) and will use it.
    Most international travelers for business also have an assistance company membership-like Europe assist or the big daddy-ISOS. they also handle many companies Credit cards, travel policies and so on and will co ordinate everything from care,longer stay,and so on.
    I have no doubt the doc was fine but I usually advice folk to use the assistance company via insurance/cc as then professionals in logistics, hospitality(that longer hotel stay and arranging payment), and indeed medicine are then involved and also can arrange escorted or private evac flights if needed(you don’t need one)
    As lucky says usually-I have no relationship with any assistance company, travel medicine company or any other entity of the type listed(I run project medical support (like 23 thousand workers a day onsite)for a very large international oil company in an Asian location.
    I have in the past worked for the international red cross, the UK army(RAMC commissioned) officer, the worlds biggest assistance company(medical director level) .
    If you want a second opinion or feel your not improving or getting worse-call your insurance/CC provider to get it done.
    Basically you should be fine but keep an eye on things and do not travel!!!!
    wait till you feel a lot better-then you wont be infective .
    PS masks worn usually -paper ones work for a short time and then get soggy .
    N99 mask last a lot longer but have a valve and are difficult to breath through if you are respiratory distressed or compromised.
    N 95 might be an idea (that’s what we use) but a paper one with changes as needed is better than nothing. use only when in other folks close range company(2 meters) and don’t sneeze on hard surfaces as it lasts as a virus a lot longer there.
    use deposable hankies.
    wash hands frequently-after sneezing or cleaning nose, before and after meals and toilet.
    clean the door knobs on toilets and also any flush handles there and taps. Hand gels with alcohol are effective cleaners of hands and objects usually.
    Take care-and every culture I have ever worked in had chicken soup in some form as a cure/treatment and research has shown it does help.

  68. Talk about going viral…

    I’m a bit disappointed you didn’t even mention the importance of having good travel insurance coverage which is meant for situations like this.

  69. Fraser,
    Wow, now that comment is useful, really, really useful. You are enormously generous to supply some real, factual light on the situation. Thank you very much.

  70. Do you really want to spread your germs on a flight? Wouldn’t that be hypocritical for a germaphobe?
    Get well soon!

  71. @glenn t – I’m a physician, and you’re right – if Ben continues to recover, Tamiflu will do him no good. But if he worsens or requires hospitalization? Or has other risk factors or develops complications? You bet that the ACIP says that Tamiflu should be given regardless of the duration of symptoms. It’s not just to make you feel better – it has an important role in patients who become really sick.

  72. @Dia. I just came back from my trip to Hong Kong and had been pulled over on my way to custom for a temperature check with a handheld device to scan my forehead.

  73. You will be denied flight access when you are interviewed by security at the check in counter. At the gate you could be randomly be selected for secondary screening and denied access to the flight. They might insist a condition of travel would be to take your temperature as they automatically do upon arrival. The Renaissance Hotel has an excellent Executive Lounge on the 41 st floor. They will make you Western soup and rice dishes etc that would be good for you. If you contact me by email I will give you the Resident Manager’s name. He is English and goes out of his way to give Yankees personalized service. I was in HKG 31Jan -06Feb flew DL Business Class and was randomly selected for intensive gate screening. With advance notice DL will provide bland Business Class meals.

  74. Very sorry to hear!

    I bring a mask now for flights where I sense the slightest risk of an ill neighbor.
    DH has answered the call for a “doctor on board” numerous times, most recently getting ill from the gent he helped, who was stretched out in the aisle, shivering and feverish by turns. (The passenger recovered, but there went a week in Paris and most of our trip.)

    My most relevant illness experience was food poisoning in Rome, being cared for at the Roma Termini clinic until I stopped puking and was well enough to get packed onto the train back to my conference in Florence. Generally–I would stay put until safe/recovered.

    I had gotten the flu shot but 2 weeks ago also got the Prevnar (pneumonia shot) in advance of travel in March–I will probably try to get some “in case” Tamiflu to bring as well.

  75. Tiffany can get you Kosher Chicken Soup to take away as good as in NYC at the Jewish Community Center . They have 2 restaurants. To enter the building you need your passport. They are located at Mid-Levels on Robinson Road and are very accommodating to visitors with special needs.

  76. A bit of a sniffle and it’s off to bed for a week? Man up and get on that return flight, you big wuss. Your readers expect a flight review, stat!

  77. I lived in HK for 23 years . I agree with some comments here , go to a good hospital , like HK Sanatorium , Doctors called by hotels are not recommended .

  78. Ben – Do you have a place to go in the US? I thought you gave up your apartment and were just winging it. If so, a private hotel room is probably the best place you can be for now, whether it’s in HK or the US. People get sick in HK all the time, we’re all humans, they can treat you there just as well as anywhere.

    I think your travel insurance will pay for the expense of recuperating abroad. Sorry about your travel plans but that is work and you need to rest. We’ll wait.

    Try to rest, stay hydrated (fluid = thinner secretions = easier to drain/hack up) and keep up on your electrolytes with broth and juice and etc. Treat your symptoms to ease yourself.

    You’re a strong young person, you eat healthy and work out when you’re traveling which is paying dividends now. I wish you a speedy recovery.

  79. @Lucky — I feel bad I pointed out your grammar error and neglected to wish you well. I’m sorry you’re ill and hope you recover soon. Don’t over-exert yourself; Tiffany is holding the fort admirably.

  80. Get well Lucky!

    There’s something I’ve been wanting to tell you for a long time and maybe you are aware of it, but flying non-stop at high altitude exposes you to a lot of radiation, and can have similar effects as receiving multiple x-rays.

    Having worked in the Nuclear Inductry, one of the first things you learn are radiation types and radiation dosage on you health. Workers in the Nuclear Industry in Europe for example, are classed as “Category A” workers, who are medically tested twice a year to be able to continue working in this field.

    The only other industry who also has Category A workers is the aviation industry. Pilots for the most part since they are in a part of the aircraft that is less shielded. I won’t get into the details of the types of radiation that exist, but the simple truth is: the one you get at high altitude is unavoidable (unlike the one you get in power plants). Plain and simple. As a passendger you are less exposed, but exposed nonetheless.

    If you want more info: (Category A workers : 20 mSv/year)

    Now, don’t be alarmed by this since you won’t likely get radiation poisoning or even some kind of illness related to it. But one thing you could do is getting your blood tested for white cells count at least twice a year. And white cells make up your immune system.

    Problem is that this is an issue that is not very well documented (and trained doctors in this field often only work in power plants or very specific research facilities). So if you have questions please do not hesitate.

    I don’t want to sound alarmist, but this should remain in the back of your head. 😉 (or delete this email and ban me from ever commenting on your fantastic blog)

  81. I had flew from HKG to SFO with a fever… never do that because its a bad idea. Sure, I wore a mask the whole way. It wasnt comfortable at all. My advice… get well in HK. I am in Hong Kong right now but I am staying far away from you. Don’t want to get sick. 🙂 If I do get sick, my girlfriend and her family can get me the treatment that I need so I am not worrying about it.

  82. Bed rest, liquids and painkillers. Unless you are old, infirm or pregnant, you should not need a doctor for the flu.

  83. If you need to go to a hospital, I would suggest Gleneagles Hong Kong Hospital, as opposed to the Sanatorium. Sanatorium is a well established private hospital, but Gleneagles is new in town and service and facilities are amazing. The place is not run over with patients since it is so new, so you will be serviced very quickly. And since the place it is new you got the same quality doctors but the rates are much less expensive. Just be mindful when you visit a doctor in the outpatient section of a private hospital they often suggest admitting you for observation and tests. Get well soon Lucky.

  84. Ben, so sorry to hear you’re ill, but so glad Tiffany is there to take care of you. All of our sincere wishes for you to get better soon!

  85. It’s only the flu. You’ll feel terrible for a couple of days and will then be fine. No need for a doctor unless you have other medical issues.

  86. I just had the flu a week ago. It wasn’t the worst one I’ve ever had, but it still sucked. I’m not young, but nobody takes care of me like my mom. My husband tried, but nobody beats mom. Anyway, I’m convinced I had it for days before I felt sick and my kids didn’t catch it. With that said, most everyone is exposed. Not all will get sick though. Traveling while truly sick would be the pits. Get well!

  87. Vicks,
    Have you read the OTHER hundred comments?

    Such conviction based on so little knowledge, both in general and in the specific instance! Wow!

    So you are the informed traveling public! Well, based on your comment and those of @Paolo and @Jeff, I have ZERO conviction that even half the people among flyers will conduct themselves decently, with any consideration for others.

  88. Sorry to hear you are sick. You must rest now. Traveling will tire you out and you really don’t want flu complications. Nor do you want to spread the germs..

    Finally do as the locals do: go to HK San.. they really know what they are doing though they are usually a bit thin on staff over Chinese New Year

    Get well soon

  89. Whatever you do don’t fly home unless you’re cured and better. Infecting others, even in F class is just mean.
    Hope you get better tho dude!

  90. Too bad you are sick. But really ridiculous that you fly all over while sick with no real purpose for going where you are. Hopepily yoo have sense enough to stay and not infect more people than you already have.
    Wonder how well your marriage will work out since you never spend time with your fiancée and instead fly all over with no purpose.

  91. @Santastico ~ you are right, this year’s flu vaccine for the USA was not up to the job. Fortunately it has been adjusted for the coming winter in the southern hemisphere.
    also the cumulative effects of annual vaccinations are not to be underestimated, and will provide you with great protection. As with many things, what goes around comes around. I recall a few years ago there was a variant of the so-called Spanish flu from about 60 years ago which I was exposed to when I was a small child. Although I obviously did not have a vaccination at that time, or remember getting ill, my body clearly developed antibodies which were still there and gave me immunity in the last outbreak while many other newly vaccinated fell ill. Hence my comment about the cumulative effects of annual vaccinations.

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *