Dying to Travel

Don’t despair, paranoid traveler! You’re no longer limited to checking the CDC website to see what diseases you can catch while traveling. Now, there’s a handy, colorful, and interactive map based on the Maplecroft Avian Influenza Risk Index. The map interactively ranks countries, shows you the threat level (the Avian Influenza Risk Index, or “AIRI,” of course), and can provide hours of hypochondriac pleasure. You can find it here. What it will tell you is that you’re safest in Australia, out of 179 surveyed countries.

When you’re done with avian flu map, pull down their menu to bring up other interactive maps, including HIV/AIDS, land mine risks, TB risk, and malaria risk, among other goodies. (They also include a host of other rankings, with respect to climate, politics, and disaster risks. They’ve got an index for everything: for example, the US is listed as having an “extreme” (2.488!) “debt index” score–too bad they didn’t break out Manhattan separately.)

When you’re satiated (that is, once you feel the fever coming on, and after you’ve canceled your next vacation) click over to Euro Assistance, and sign up for your weekly World Pandemic Monitor newsletter. I’m waiting for my free copy to arrive. It sounds gripping and informative: “Hundreds of international articles and reports are being carefully scrutinized and summarized in the form of a weekly newsletter keeping pace with events such as: new countries affected, confirmed cases, actions and remedies introduced by authorities of concerned countries. This information comes with graphs and maps, in-depth articles selected for the relevance of their analyses.” So, travel with confidence! As Jeff Mills of the Financial Times joyfully, and helpfully, put it yesterday: “traversing the world need not be a death sentence.”