Consuming contaminated food and drinks, plus unsanitary food handling, can transmit illnesses including traveler’s diarrhea, hepatitis A, typhoid fever, polio, cholera and parasites.
Rule of thumb: Boil it, cook it, peel it yourself, or forget it!
In general, foods you prepare yourself are safer than foods in restaurants or at street vendors.
Drink Precautions for Travelers:
Drink bottled beverages whenever possible, and make sure the seal is intact before drinking
Techniques for purifying drinking water:
- Boil vigorously for at least one minute and cool to room temperature OR
- Use iodine crystals (liquid or tablets) -- you can improve flavor by adding water flavoring OR
- Filter water, preferably using filter with a pore size of <.3 - .9 micron, which can remove bacteria (e.g. E. coli, cholera)
Self-care for traveler's diarrhea:
Traveler's diarrhea can be defined as 3 or more loose stools per day.
Self-care should include:
- Rehydrate by adding powdered Gatorade to bottled water, or other electrolyte replacement solutions and clear fluids. Do not drink plain bottled water because it may not be tolerated well on an upset stomach. Start by drinking these in small amounts (30 cc or 2 tablespoons) and if tolerated, increase the amount of fluid until your urine is light yellow in color.
- Eat bland, easily digested foods, for example, the BRAT diet: Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast.
- Take Imodium AD® (loperamide) per package instructions, maximum 4 tablets per day.
- If antibiotics were prescribed for you, use them only if your symptoms are not improving with the measures above, and take them according to prescription directions.
Seek medical treatment if:
- Symptoms do not resolve with self-care
- Symptoms last more than three days
- Stools contain blood or mucous
- You have a high fever (101 F or above)