Cruised to Mexico? You May Have to Keep Your Blood

October 30, 2006
Over the past year, we've noticed members on the boards mentioning that they were barred from donating blood after returning from cruises that included stops in certain Mexican ports. The reason: there's a risk of malaria. Red Cross regulations require a 12-month grace period following travel to at-risk destinations.

Cruise Critic contacted the CDC for some clarification on blood donation issues and travel to Mexico as a result. Here's what we've learned:

If you visit the following areas, the waiting period applies: Playa Del Carmen, Calica, Mazatlan, Costa Maya and Puerto Chiapas.

Urban areas that are sprayed regularly are not at risk. Places of note without issue: Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, Cozumel, Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas (Guerrero, the Mexican state where Acapulco is located is labeled as "lower risk").

It is unlikely that cruisers stopping in a Mexican port for the day are really at risk to the same extent as the local population. The source of Malaria transmission is the female Anopheles mosquito, a nocturnal night-biting mosquito, and port calls are nearly unilaterally day-time affairs. All parties involved, however, including the Mexican Ministry of Health, the CDC and the Red Cross have decided on a very conservative approach to the situation.

The regulations are subject to change based on joint findings by the Mexican Ministry and the World Health Organization studies. We'll keep you posted.

--by Dan Askin, Editorial Assistant