There’s no better feeling than looking forward to a holiday. Well actually there is – being on holiday.
What many of us didn’t know, is that the tropical destinations we are so fond of travelling to are actually known as at-risk destinations. This means they have a known risk of infectious diseases, where things like vaccinations and various other precautions are recommended.
In fact – of the top 10 countries Australians are travelling to, seven are considered at-risk. This includes Indonesia (which has experienced five times more Aussie arrivals over the last 10 years!), Thailand, Japan, India, China, Singapore and Fiji.
A 2015 report showed that one in four Australians travelling to at-risk destinations fell ill on their last trip, with 43 per cent needing to seek medical assistance while overseas.
Of those Aussies who got sick on their last trip, 49 per cent believe they caught something from eating and drinking.
If you’ve ever had Bali belly, you know it’s an experience nobody wants to repeat. Ever. Ever ever. And Bali belly isn’t the only illness – Typhoid, Traveller’s diarrhoea, salmonella and hepatitis A are just some of the infections that can picked up from contaminated food and drink.
We spoke with travel health specialist and Sydney GP, Dr Sarah Chu, who brought us up to speed.
Apparently you’re not just at risk if you’re eating exotic foods from street carts or cheap restaurants. Even our favourite things to consume on holiday are potential hazards. Here's how to make sure your next holiday isn’t memorable for all the wrong reasons….
Yep, you read correctly. Mai Tais, Singapore Slings, caipirinhas, all have one common ingredient. Ice.
In many parts of the world where water treatment standards are different, tap water may contain disease-causing contaminants, including viruses, bacteria and parasites. So when you have a cocktail full of ice, which may be made from tap water, you’re risking more than just getting a little tipsy.
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You’re on holiday, it’s hot, all you want is a nice refreshing salad to help cool you down. Sorry to break it to you, but the contaminated water problem also applies here. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a five-star hotel, if the restaurant is washing your vegetables with tap water you might want to opt for the pad thai instead.
You wake up, and a breakfast of poached eggs on toast is only one room-service call away. Even in Australia, eggs have a potential risk of salmonella. In countries where the handling and preparation of fresh eggs can be very different, it’s best to ensure your eggs are hard-boiled.
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In some areas of developing countries, milk is typically unpasteurised which means it may carry harmful bacteria and other germs that can make you verrry sick. Not even a lick of delicious chocolate-ice cream is worth it. It’s not just ice cream either, any unpasteurised dairy product like milk or cheese is worth skipping.
In Australia, we can usually rest easy knowing that when we order steak medium-rare, it’s been adequately stored and refrigerated beforehand. In other parts of the world, you never know the journey meat takes before it lands on the grill, so it’s best to order cooked-through to ensure any nasty bacteria or bugs are removed.