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Canadian tourist dies after Peruvian tea ceremony

Chicago Tribune
A warning about tea ceremonies and other travel alerts.

Peru: A Canadian tourist died after a spiritual tea ceremony at Canto Luz Centre near Puerto Maldonado. Unlike deaths associated with ingesting tea made from ayahuasca in Peru, Colombia and elsewhere in recent years, the 32-year-old woman apparently drank tobacco tea as part of a purging ritual with a local shaman. The excessive purging resulted in pulmonary edema, an abnormal buildup of fluid in the air sacs of the lungs. There are risks associated with such rituals, and tourists should use extreme caution when seeking out spiritual tea ceremonies.

Haiti: Activities related to Carnival may increase security issues across the country, particularly in the wake of recent nationwide protests over high fuel prices. Along with raucous celebrations, parades and marching bands, Carnival brings heightened risks of robbery, assault and pickpocketing. Officials recommend observing the festivities from a safe distance and traveling with groups.

Germany: An outbreak of measles has been reported, with at least 375 cases in the last four months, more than three times the current cases in the U.S. The outbreak is concentrated in Berlin, where two-thirds of the cases were reported. Health officials blame the outbreak on the country's historically low rate of immunizations and said those born between 1970 and 1990 may not have received both recommended rounds of measles vaccinations. Travelers should be fully immunized before visiting the area.

China: Health officials in Hong Kong warn of the continuing flu outbreak that has killed about 150 people so far this year. Tourists are urged to be vaccinated against the flu at least two weeks to one month before travel, especially those at a higher risk of flu-related complications, which includes anyone over 65 and children 6 months to 5 years old. Although flu shots are usually 70 to 80 percent effective, authorities said the current A-type H3N2 virus spreading through Hong Kong has mutated.

Indonesia: Check local news sources before heading to West Java, where flooding has affected hundreds of neighborhoods in the capital, Jakarta, displacing more than 6,000 people since Feb. 8. Many businesses closed at the height of the flooding, which is blamed not only on heavy seasonal rains but also on the city's poor drainage system. Timing estimates for cleanup have not been announced, and more rain was forecast.

Compiled from news services and travel sources. For updates, check with the State Department at 888-407-4747, travel.state.gov.

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