08 Jun 2018
Summer Travel 2018: food, water and hygiene reminderImportant reminder about good food, water and personal hygiene
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 and in the past Cyclospora infection has affected some UK travellers who visited 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. Always try to choose recently prepared food that is served piping hot. Certain foods should be avoided, for example: fresh uncooked berries, unpeeled fruit and salads.
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. Public Health England has specific advice for travellers on prevention of Cyclospora.
Recreational water such as swimming pools, the sea, freshwater rivers and lakes can also be a source of water-borne infection. In swimming pools, infection may occur if treatment and disinfection of the water is inadequate. Don’t swim in a pool if you have diarrhoea, ensure babies and infants are wearing suitable swimwear and avoiding swallowing pool water where possible.
Travellers’ diarrhoea usually resolves without treatment. However, get urgent medical advice if you develop a high fever (38°C or more), see blood and/or mucous in diarrhoea, symptoms do not improve in three days or if you get other worrying symptoms such as, severe abdominal pain, jaundice, rash or confusion. Seek help earlier for older individuals, young children and other vulnerable travellers, if they unable to drink 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 illness 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.