Common ailments

Holiday advice: Water/food contamination

My husband and I have booked a holiday to Zanzibar this summer but I was recently told that food and water there are not always safe for consumption. Have we chosen the wrong holiday destination?

I am sure you will have a wonderful time in Zanzibar provided you take a few simple precautions.

Many illnesses, including Hepatitis A and cholera can be transmitted through contaminated food and water. Also, new germs in food and water, to which the local population are immune, are enough to cause an upset tummy and diarrhoea.

If in doubt about the safety of the local tap water, do not drink it, use it to wash fruit and vegetables or clean your teeth with it. Use bottled water instead or water purification tablets. Boiled water and hot drinks made with boiled water are usually safe. In fact, boiling water is the most reliable way of purifying water but is not always possible when you’re on holiday. You should also avoid having ice in drinks unless you are sure it is made from treated water. The same applies to fruit or vegetables which haven’t been peeled or cooked, and salads that may have been prepared using untreated water.
As a general rule, only eat freshly prepared food that is thoroughly cooked and served very hot. It would also be prudent to avoid raw or undercooked shellfish and seafood.

It would be a good idea to pack a diarrhoea remedy, some rehydration salts and water purification tablets before you go away. If you do suffer an attack of diarrhoea, remember to drink plenty of clean, safe water, little and often to stay hydrated.

Finally, check that your travel insurance covers medical treatment as you don’t want to end up with a large medical bill if you are taken ill or have an accident whilst on holiday.

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