Many local people will undoubtedly be traveling abroad, where they risk contracting diseases from eating or drinking in foreign countries. If some precautions are taken, however, you can cut down the chances that you will be infected if you know how to eat while traveling abroad. Some travelers mistakenly believe that a bout of diarrhea is the most serious hazard they risk when eating or drinking abroad, but consequences can be far more serious.
The dangers range from a prolonged dysentery and flue-type illnesses to liver damage, brain damage and even death. The most easily contaminated foods are water, milk and dairy products, raw fruits and vegetables and, in some areas, raw shellfish. About 25 percent of the hospital beds in the world are filled with the victims of water-borne illnesses.
This includes water used for making ice and brushing teeth. Carbonation or the alcohol in alcoholic beverages will not lessen the impurities in water and ice. Ice cubes should be avoided. Tea or coffee, assuming the water used to make it has been boiled, is generally safe.
The best way to insure safe water is to boil it for three to five minutes. If it’s impossible to boil water, chemical treatments may be used. Purifiers release iodine to purify the water .
Salt water bathing is generally safe, except in areas where there is a nearby fresh water or sewage inflow. Bathing in streams, ditches, marshes or untreated pools should be absolutely avoided. And walking barefoot on beaches or riverbanks may expose an individual to hookworm.
Fresh milk and dairy products should be avoided. Ice cream and cottage cheese are as likely to be contaminated as fresh milk. Evaporated, canned, condensed and powdered milks are OK if reconstituted with purified water in a sterile container.
Fresh milk, like water, may be purified by boiling for three to five minutes. Fresh fruits and vegetables can also be made safe by the boiling treatment, but soaking in chemicals does not insure the safety of such foods. Fresh fruit with the skin intact can be washed, peeled and eaten safely.
Fresh meat, fish and eggs are safe when cooked and eaten hot, as are bakery products served hot and soups. Canned or tinned foods are safe unless the cans are swollen or rusty, in which cases they should be discarded.
It is not wise to take preventive medicines for food or water-borne illnesses since the medications themselves can cause symptoms that obscure the diagnosis.
Travelers can reduce the chance of disease while traveling to a minimum by following a few simple rules. Obtain proper immunizations or preventive medicines before leaving. Before visiting some countries, it is required that some immunizations be obtained and certified on a health card in order to re-enter the United States without facing quarantine.
The best advice when it comes to eating when you travel abroad is to use discretion in food and drink. Protect yourself against harmful insect and animal bites. Maintain proper rest and seek prompt care should illness occur.