5 Tips To Beat Travel Bugs
To enjoy the local cuisine without the pooping, follow these guidelines from the World Health Organization
Before leaving home, consult with your doctor for advice on the various diseases to which you may be exposed at your destination, and the need for vaccinations or other preventive measures. Make sure you carry Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS), and any other medicines you may require during your travel.
Wash your hands often and always before handling and consuming food. Dangerous microorganisms are widely found in soil, water, animals and people and can be carried on hands and transferred to food. While visiting food markets, be aware of this when touching raw food and in particular raw meat. These markets often include live animals which can transmit a number of diseases including avian influenza (bird flu).
When frequenting street food vendors or buffets in hotels and restaurants, make sure that cooked food is not in contact with raw food. Avoid any uncooked food, apart from fruits and vegetables that can be peeled or shelled. Raw food can contain dangerous microorganisms which could contaminate cooked food through direct contact. This may reintroduce disease-causing bacteria into safe, cooked food.
In general, make sure your food has been thoroughly cooked and remains steaming hot. Dangerous micro-organisms are killed by proper cooking which is one of the most effective ways to make food safe. However, it is critical that all parts of the food be thoroughly cooked, i.e. reaching 70°C in all parts.
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Ice cream, drinking water, ice cubes and milk can easily be contaminated with dangerous microorganisms or chemicals. If in doubt, avoid them. Peel all fruits and vegetables if eaten raw. Avoid those with damaged skin because toxic chemicals can be formed in damaged and mouldy foods. Green-leafed vegetables (e.g. green salads) can contain dangerous micro-organisms which are difficult to remove. If in doubt about the hygienic conditions, avoid them. If available, bottled water is the safer choice for drinking water but always check the seal to ensure it has not been tampered with.
Be temperature wise
Cooked food held at room temperature for several hours constitutes another major risk for food- borne illness. Avoid these foods at buffets, markets, restaurants and street vendors if they are not kept hot or refrigerated/on ice. Micro-organisms can multiply very quickly if food is stored at room temperature. By holding food refrigerated or on ice (below 5°C) or hot (above 60°C) the growth of micro-organisms is slowed down or stopped.
What to do if you get diarrhoea?
Most diarrhoea attacks are self-limited and clear up in a few days. Diarrhoea may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting and/or fever. The important thing is to avoid becoming dehydrated. This is extremely important for children. If the child is restless or irritable, or shows signs of strong thirst, or has sunken eyes, or dry skin with reduced elasticity, dehydration is already progressing and immediate medical attention should be sought.
If bowel movements are very frequent, very watery or contain blood, or last more than three days you should seek medical help. Where there is no medical help available a three-day course of ciprofloxacin* (500mg twice a day for adults, 15mg/kg twice a day for children) can be taken.
As soon as diarrhoea starts, drink more fluids, such as oral rehydration formula, boiled, treated or bottled water, weak tea, soups or other safe fluids. Avoid any drinks that tend to remove more water from the body, including coffee, overly sweetened drinks, some medicinal teas and alcohol.