by By Michael J. Shapiro | May 01, 2009

Carlos BehnsenOne month after the Mexico Tour­ism Board kicked off a campaign to "set the record straight" regarding the country's warring drug cartels, the country was hit with an outbreak of swine flu, believed to be responsible for as many as 149 deaths as of press time.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel advisory on April 27, "out of an abundance of caution," recommending that nonessential travel to Mexico be avoided because of the outbreak and advising caution for those required to travel.

At press time, the outbreak affected central Mexico, with Mexico City as the epicenter; cases of the flu hadn't been reported at any beach resorts.

Meanwhile, Mexico Tour­ism Board deputy director Carlos Behnsen said the drug war "is not affecting the major tourist areas," noting that violence was contained to drug cartels and the police.

Most drug-related unrest has taken place in five municipalities in the northwest part of the country: the border towns of Tijuana, Nogales and Ciudad Juarez, as well as Chihuahua City and Culiacán, all far from incentive destinations such as Cancún and Los Cabos.

"Negative publicity has created confusion and misconceptions in the marketplace," Behnsen said. Much of this confusion, he added, was based on a misinterpretation of the travel alert issued by the U.S. State Department in February, which meant to warn potential travelers about increased violence and recommended they take commonsense precautions while traveling. See and for updated information.