12 Jun 2017

Summer travel food and hygiene reminder 2017

Tips on the prevention of food and water borne illness during travel Summer travel food and hygiene reminder 2017
NaTHNaC and Health Protection Scotland are reminding travellers of the importance of good food, water and personal hygiene during summer holiday travel.

Advice for travellers

Remember that some diseases such as bacillary dysentery, typhoid, viral hepatitis and parasites like Cyclospora, are spread by contaminated food and water in certain parts of the world. Occasionally contaminated food and water can be associated with outbreaks affecting travellers, for example in 2015 and 2016 cyclosporiasis affected a number of UK travellers who had returned from Mexico. Destination specific advice, including vaccine advice, is available on our Country Information pages.

In countries with poor sanitation, drink bottled water with intact seals if possible and always try to choose recently prepared food that is served piping hot. Certain foods should be avoided e.g. fresh uncooked berries/unpeeled fruit and salad items.

Travellers should wash their hands after visiting the toilet, changing nappies and before preparing or eating food. Alcohol gel is helpful when hand-washing facilities are not available.

See our food and water hygiene advice and travellers’ diarrhoea factsheet for further information on prevention of diarrhoea and stomach upsets. See also specific advice for travellers on the prevention of Cyclospora.

Recreational water such as swimming pools, the sea and freshwater rivers and lakes may also be a source of water-borne infection. In swimming pools, infection may occur if treatment and disinfection of the water are inadequate. Don’t swim in the pool if you have diarrhoea, ensure babies and infants are wearing suitable swimwear, and avoiding ingesting the pool water where possible.

Travellers’ diarrhoea usually resolves without treatment. However, seek medical care if you develop a fever of 38°C or more, blood and/or mucous in the diarrhoea, if symptoms do not improve within three days or if you develop other worrying symptoms such as altered mental status, severe abdominal pain, jaundice or rash. Seek help earlier for older individuals, young children and other vulnerable travellers if they are not tolerating fluids or are showing signs of dehydration. After returning home from your trip, if you still have symptoms such as fever, watery diarrhoea, loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps/pain, bloating, increased gas, nausea, fatigue and or flu-like symptoms seek medical attention, remember to tell your GP you have travelled abroad.

Advice for health professionals

Individuals with ongoing symptoms on return from travel, depending on the history and clinical presentation may require tests, such as stool microscopy, stool culture, full blood count and/or biochemistry. If protozoan parasites are considered a possible diagnosis request appropriate tests including stool microscopy for ova cysts and parasites. Testing should be arranged in the usual process through local laboratories quoting travel history. Confirmed cases should be reported to the local health protection team.


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