Strolling the streets of Paris or taking in the scenery in the Greek islands are great ways to spend a summer vacation abroad. But with all the memories you’ll be making, don’t make the mistake of getting sick.
Going abroad comes with its own set of health dangers, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a comprehensive list of diseases to be wary of. But if you don’t anticipate coming across exotic germs like chikungunya or West Nile virus, you might be waylaid by the most common of ailments — traveler’s diarrhea (TD). According to the CDC, 20 to 50 percent of international travelers suffer from this affliction while overseas. The most common culprit is food-borne bacteria, like E. coli.
Your destination can also determine the likelihood of sickness. A Yahoo Travel survey found that people are most likely to get sick in Spain (30 percent), Turkey (15 percent) and Egypt (13 percent). The survey found travelers were more likely to sample the local fare in these countries, leading to increased bouts of illness.
The best defense against traveler’s diarrhea is to use common sense. Yahoo Travel Editor, Leah Ginsberg, advises travelers to “cook it, boil it, peel it or forget it” to prevent picking up bacteria from food. She also points out that if a restaurant or food stand looks unclean, the food has been exposed to the same conditions. You’ll be better off finding something else to whet your appetite. Better still? Eat like a vegetarian. Meat and shellfish are the most likely items to harbor bacteria, while vegetarian staples like beans, rice and potatoes are generally good bets to stave off sickness. If you’re eating fruits like bananas, avocados and oranges, make sure you can peel them first. Never eat unpeeled fruit!
Drinking overseas can also lead to cases of TD. Water — including ice — is notorious for harboring unsavory bacteria, and unpasteurized milk can also up your risk. The CDC recommends drinking bottled beverages, like soda, tea, coffee, beer and wine.
Stop by AFC before your next trip to get any necessary vaccines and some good advice from a health care professional on what to look out for while traveling. A healthy body is a happy body, especially while you’re traveling!