Avoiding Stomach Bugs While Travelling

Bali belly, Montezuma’s revenge, Delhi belly and the Rangoon Runs are various names for the for traveller’s diarrhoea, which is often caused by eating contaminated food or water. These stomach bugs can cause all manner of symptoms including cramping, nausea, urgency to go to the toilet, loose watery stools, a mild temperature and general weakness and discomfort, as well as potentially spoiling a well‐deserved holiday. To avoid contracting a stomach bug in holiday destinations where sanitation and hygiene standards are inadequate, it may be helpful to follow some basic rules:

  • Unless you are sure of the purity of the local water supply, don’t drink it. This also applies to water used for brushing teeth and in ice‐cubes. Drink and use bottled water but check to see if the seal is intact to ensure it has not been tampered with. Otherwise thoroughly boil water or consider using iodine tablets which work as a disinfectant.
  • Hot tea and coffee, fizzy drinks and alcoholic beverages are less likely to be contaminated than water but be careful if the drinks contain ice cubes.
  • Wash your hands often and always before consuming or handling food. Consider carrying an alcohol‐based hand sanitiser for convenience.
  • Avoid any uncooked food. Fruit and vegetables that can be peeled or shelled are the exception.
  • Make sure the food you eat has been thoroughly cooked and remains piping hot . Particularly avoid raw seafood, poultry that is still pink, and undercooked minced meat or burgers.
  • Use caution with local cheeses and ice‐cream.
  • Food-borne travel sickness can be caused by eating cooked food that has been kept at room temperature for several hours so try and avoid food from buffets, street vendors or market stalls unless you are sure it has been kept steaming hot, refrigerated or on ice.

Keep an oral rehydration product on hand for times when traveller’s diarrhoea occurs. rehydration solutions can help to replace important fluids and electrolytes and help dehydration.
Seek medical advice if diarrhoea or vomiting persists for longer than:

  • 6 hours in infants under 6 months
  • 12 hours in children under 3 years
  • 24 hours in children aged 3‐6 years
  • 48 hours in adults and children over 6 years

Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin supplements should not replace a balanced diet

For more information, please visit https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/travelers-diarrhea

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