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Worldwide Alerts

Earthquake in Japan


Japan's Kyushu region in southern Japan was struck by twin earthquakes on Thursday and Saturday including a 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck the city of Kumamoto. Travellers should be wary of potential aftershocks. Heed all instructions issued by authorities and plan alternative modes of transport if necessary. Monitor local media sources for further developments.

The Office of Global Safety and Security and Study Abroad Office have been in touch with local program staff in Japan and confirmed the safety of our students, but anyone with concerns can contact Emergencies should be reported to the Northwestern University Policy at (847) 491-3456.

Earthquake in Ecuador


A 7.8 magnitude earthquake occurred on Saturday, April 16 in northern Ecuador (approximately 17 miles south-southeast of Muisne, Esmeraldas province). Some local damage to buildings and possibly to bridges and roadways has been reported in Quito and Guayaquil. Travelers should stay tuned to local news sources for up-to-date information.

If you are trying to reach individuals in Ecuador, please note many communication systems including phone and internet service are down. We suggest using text, social media and phone applications as alternate means if calls are not going through.

While we are not aware of any Northwestern travelers in this location, questions about the health or safety of students abroad can be addressed to Emergencies should be reported to the Northwestern University Policy at (847) 491-3456.

Europe Travel Alert


On March 22, 2016, the U.S. Department of State (U.S. DOS) issued a Travel Alert for Europe. This advisory does not recommend deferring or canceling travel, but promotes “vigilance" and “awareness," particularly in public places and mass transit gathering points. It also suggests that travelers exercise extra caution during religious holidays.

As a result of increased security all over Europe, travelers may notice additional police or members of the military on patrol. Government buildings may add metal detectors or bag checkpoints at all entrances. Overall security will be tightened at train and subway stations, bus stops and airports. While these acts can contribute to an atmosphere of anxiety, they are meant to help residents and visitors feel more secure.

Northwestern has no plans to suspend or alter study abroad programs in Europe at this time. However, in keeping with best travel practices, Northwestern travelers are encouraged to:

  1. Pay attention to all messages from your team leader or Northwestern’s Office of Global Safety and Security regarding health or safety
  2. Keep abreast of local news; follow the guidance of local authorities
  3. Stay in regular contact with your family members or loved ones here at home
  4. Keep your cell phone fully charged and with you at all times
  5. Memorize local emergency contact information (names and telephone numbers)
  6. Pay attention to electronic messages you receive from the U.S. DOS Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) - registration strongly encouraged

The above information has been shared with all Northwestern students currently abroad. Any Northwestern traveler with questions or concerns should contact the unit sponsoring their travel or Northwestern’s Office of Global Safety and Security ( In an emergency, travelers should inform their local contact or phone the Northwestern police (24/7) at (847) 491-3456.

Zika Virus


In January, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued travel guidance regarding the Zika virus, which is spread by mosquitos and therefore most prevalent in tropical environments. Generally, symptoms are mild and include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes), which can last several days to a week. Currently there is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika, but symptoms are rarely severe and hospitalization is uncommon.

Travelers can limit their exposure to Zika (and other mosquito-borne illnesses like Malaria, Dengue Fever and Chikungunya) by taking precautions to prevent mosquito bites.

Unfortunately, Zika is linked to a specific birth defect called microcephaly. Because of this link, the CDC developed specific guidance for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant, warning them to avoid visiting places where the virus is currently circulating. The CDC has also issued information about the risk of transmitting Zika through sexual contact. Note that some locations may offer a reduced chance of exposure to Zika due to high elevation.

If you are concerned about a risk of exposure to Zika related to upcoming travel, contact a specialist in travel medicine, such as Northwestern Medicine’s Travel Medicine Clinic or Glenbrook Hospital’s Travel Clinic. Pregnant women, or women planning to become pregnant, should consult with their OB/GYN.



The Office of Global Safety and Security (OGSS) and the Study Abroad Office (SAO) are monitoring the results of the terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium. We offer our sincere condolences to the people of Belgium and those elsewhere in Europe at this very difficult time.  

For Spring term, Northwestern is affiliated with only one study abroad program in Belgium and has only one participant on that program. We can confirm the safety and well-being of that participant, and at this time, there are no plans to withdraw the student from Belgium or other students from Europe. 

Questions about the health or safety of students abroad can be addressed to Emergencies should be reported to the Northwestern University Police at (847) 491-3456.