Oh Dear, it’s Diarrhoea!! Diarrhoea affects up to 50% of International Travellers

20-50% of International Travellers get Diarrhoea – Source of statistic- Advising travellers about management of travellers’ diarrhoea; Australian Family Physician Volume 44, No.1, 2015 Pages 34-37 2015, Karin Leder.

Many travellers continue to pick up diarrhoeal infections overseas. The risk is higher if you travel to developing countries but let’s face it getting gastroenteritis while overseas can ruin your dream holiday. There are many things you can do to reduce your risk of getting traveller’s diarrhoea whilst overseas.

Before you go, make an appointment with your travel doctor. There are vaccines against hepatitis A and typhoid infections- these are 2 terrible gut infections. There is a cholera vaccine which can also be used to minimise your chance of E Coli traveller’s diarrhoea. We can also set you up with a gastro pack which contains medications and antibiotics you can use if you get sick with traveller’s diarrhoea overseas.

Whilst overseas there are many things you can do to reduce your chance of acquiring gastro germs.

A really simple tip is to be fanatical about hand washing. Wash your hands regularly including after going to the toilet,  before eating and after handling money. If soap and safe water are unavailable then hand sanitiser is your next best option.

When choosing where to eat always look around at the possible eating venue. Are there other customers? What are they eating? If there are many customers you can be reassured that there is turnover of food. Eat what the locals are eating rather than ordering something different that might have been prepared some time ago and is not fresh. If you’re the only one eating at the restaurant ponder if there might be a reason why and might the food be old and expired. Also look around and assess whether it looks hygienic–  are dishes, utensils clean?

When choosing what to eat, food which is freshly cooked and comes out piping hot to you is the safest option. This is as opposed to raw/not cooked/room temperature foods and reheated foods. Cooking the food to high temperatures reduces the risk of germs in your food.

Food prepared by yourself can be safer as you are able to wash / peel the fruit / vegetable / salad in safe water. Thick-skinned fruit such as a banana or orange which need to be peeled are a great option.  Factory packaged foods such as cans are generally safe – however, always remember to check expiry dates.  Take care with dairy foods. Ensure they has been stored appropriately and are pasteurised.

Canned or bottled drinks such as soft drinks and beer are generally safe. Always ensure you only drink safe water. See Contaminated water & how to avoid the risks while travelling .

If you feel you might need some more guidance on making less risky food/drink choices overseas there is a really user friendly app called “Can I eat this?”. It has been developed by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and is free- https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/apps-about#canieat

Disclaimer: The information on the Shepparton Travel Clinic website has been prepared for general information purpose only. It is not intended to be relied on as a substitute for professional medical advice. No person should act, fail to act, disregard professional medical advice, or delay seeking professional medical advice on the basis of this material. Shepparton Travel Clinic does not guarantee the accuracy, currency or completeness of any of this information and will not be liable for any loss, damage or injury directly or indirectly caused by this material or its use.