Heading south for spring break? Or maybe you’re planning an Asian getaway? Whether you’re travelling to these destinations, Africa, or even some parts of Europe such as Italy and Spain, you’ll need to take certain precautions to avoid food- and water-borne illnesses like Hepatitis A, Typhoid Fever, and Traveller’s Diarrhea. We asked Dr. Dominique Tessier about common mistakes people make on vacation and for tips for a happy, healthy holiday.
Drinking tap water.
Seems pretty obvious, right? But you’d be surprised to know how literally this advice is taken; most travellers remember to drink bottled water, but forget not to use tap water to brush their teeth, or not to accept drinks with ice cubes in them. Remember Sex and the City: The Movie? Even drinking a tiny bit of water in the shower can put you at risk of water-borne illnesses.
What to do? Stick to bottled water, juices and soft drinks; ask for no ice in your alcoholic and non –alcoholic beverages, and steer clear of any drinks involving crushed ice (including those delicious piña coladas). If you run out of bottled water, you can always boil some if you have access to a coffee pot or an electric kettle.
Eating raw veggies and fruits that don’t need to be peeled.
Raw vegetables and fruits that don’t need peeling could be contaminated and make you sick. These include any kind of berry, lettuce, unpeeled apples, pears, peaches, grapes, and uncooked veggies like celery, tomatoes, carrots, etc.
Eating food bought from street vendors.
If food is not recently cooked and piping hot, there is a chance it could be contaminated. People tend to forget that this applies to most kinds of foods sold by street vendors.
What to do? Make a point not to buy food from anyone on the street. Also, when eating at a buffet, scan the place for dishes that have just been put out and are just off the grill. If you think an item of food may have been sitting there for a while, it’s best to just choose something else.