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Getting Sick on Your Vacation, How To Avoid It

2010 October 25
by buddy

Food poisoning is a common occurrence for vacationers while abroad. The problem isn’t the water and food, it’s the bugs and germs that are swimming in it, or climbing and breeding on it. Local people have usually built up a natural immunity to the infections, so they easily shrug off any bacteria and virus. A tourist can arrive in the country, take one sip of water and then be so ill from an infection that they spend the rest of their vacation in bed. Vacation ailments like the infamous ‘Delhi Belly’ and ‘Montezuma’s Revenge’ are not inevitable. If you follow some simple rules on hygiene, food and drink, you can greatly reduce the risk of suffering from these infections. Be warned that simple infections that cause diarrhea and vomiting can lead to dehydration and ultimately to fatal complications. Young children and the elderly are particularly susceptible to dehydration. You should be able to avoid the usual stomach upsets by taking some simple precautions.

• If travelling with young or frail people, consult your doctor before you go. Decide if the risks are acceptable and consider leaving young and the old and frail at home. If you take them, ask your doctor about taking re-hydration formula or anything else to help them recover if they fall ill.

• Some raw foods such as oysters are especially prone to infection.

• Never eat salad ingredients that are unwashed or may have been washed in local water. If the water is contaminated, the food is contaminated too.

•  Undercooked food is as dangerous and sometimes more dangerous than raw food.

• If you buy fresh, try to buy things that you know are safe. Something that is wrapped by nature or a factory should be safe. A sack of local beans could be suspect. Baked beans in a can should be safe from contamination (assuming the can isn’t dented, past its sell-by date, rusty or pierced). An undamaged banana, orange or other fruit that has to be peeled should be safe because it was wrapped by nature.

• Beware of rich foods, and exotic sauces and spices. They alone can be rich enough to upset a British stomach raised on burger and chips and an occasional roast potato or pork chop.

• Drink bottled water, but make sure that the bottled water is safe. Criminals abroad know that we demand bottled water, so they are not slow in putting local tap or river water in bottles and selling it to us at a vast profit.

• Because they are made with boiling water, coffee and tea are usually safe, but consider avoiding local milk.


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