Avoiding food poisoning while travelling
Strange food and a change in climate can make anyone feel dodgy, but true food poisoning can really wreck a holiday
Around 2.1 million British tourists suffered from food-related illnesses in 2003. But by following a few simple precautions, says Steve Tate, CEO with food hygiene specialist Check Safety First, you can reduce your risk of coming down with a deeply unpleasant bug.
Common types of food poisoning
There are many types of food poisoning, each with its own nasty variation. Learn the signs of the most prolific types with their symptoms and sources, so you know what you're dealing with.
Symptoms: Include diarrhoea with blood, fever and vomiting
Duration: Usually lasts for up to 48 hours
Incubation period: Approximately 24 to 48 hours
Source: This is the most common form of infectious gastro-enteritis and can be found in contaminated food and water. It is easily passed from person to person - you can contract it by handling the same object as an infected person.
Type: E Coli 157
Symptoms: Include diarrhoea with blood, nausea and vomiting
Duration: About two to three days
Incubation period: Illness usually appears three to four days after exposure, but it can be as much as nine days
Source: Includes both food and water contamination. With careless food handling, any product eaten raw may be contaminated with raw meat juices
Symptoms: Include severe diarrhoea, sometimes with blood, severe stomach cramps and vomiting
Duration: From two days to a week
Incubation period: Usually around two to five days
Source: Untreated milk and water, undercooked meat, poultry and shellfish
Symptoms: Include diarrhoea, fever, severe abdominal pains and vomiting
Duration: From four days to three weeks
Incubation period: Usually between 12 to 72 hours
Source: Raw eggs, unpasteurised milk and undercooked poultry and meat
Type: Bacillus cereus
Symptoms: Includes nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhoea and abdominal pain
Duration: Usually lasts no longer than 24 to 36 hours
Incubation period: Incubation time is between six and 15 hours after consumption
Source: Contaminated cooked food, dried foods and dairy products
Not strictly food related, Crytosporidiosis is another infection to be aware of. Although a waterborne illness contracted from infected swimming pools, its symptoms are very similar to food poisoning. The best way to avoid it is to steer clear of dirty swimming pools, so if the pool at your destination resort looks dirty, don't use it!