Health Risks Around the
World and how to avoid them
round the world always brings with it some risk to health. However,
by taking certain – often simple – steps, you can minimise your
exposure to almost every major health hazard.
Eat and Drink... Safely
Wherever you are in
the world, be careful what you eat and drink. Food and water may be contaminated
in a variety of ways – and that includes the water in swimming pools,
lakes, rivers and the sea, so try not to swallow water when you are bathing.
is very common, especially in hot countries. Travellers’ diarrhoea, as
well as diseases such as cholera, typhoid and hepatitis A can all be caught
from contaminated food and water. BUT THEY CAN ALSO LARGELY BE AVOIDED
BY SIMPLE PRECAUTIONS:
- Always wash your
hands after going to the lavatory, before handling food and before eating.
- If you have any
doubts about the water available for drinking, washing food or cleaning
teeth, boil it, sterilise it with disinfectant tablets or use bottled
water - preferably carbonated with gas - in sealed containers.
- Avoid ice unless
you are sure it is made from treated and chlorinated water. This includes
ice used to keep food cool as well as ice in drinks.
- It is usually safe
to drink hot tea or coffee, wine, beer, carbonated water and soft drinks,
and packaged or bottled fruit juices.
- Eat freshly cooked
food which is thoroughly cooked and still piping hot.
- Avoid food which
has been kept warm.
- Avoid uncooked
food, unless you can peel or shell it yourself.
- Avoid food likely
to have been exposed to flies.
- Avoid ice cream
from unreliable sources, such as kiosks or itinerant traders.
- Avoid - or boil
- unpasteurised milk.
- Fish and shellfish
can be suspect in some countries. Uncooked shellfish, such as oysters,
are a particular hazard.
CARE IN THE SUN
Many people travel
from this country in search of the sun. The sun should be enjoyed, but
overexposure can cause sunburn, leading to premature skin ageing and an
increased risk of skin cancer. It is the ultraviolet rays which cause
this; even in the UK they can damage your skin, and UV is much more powerful
the nearer the equator you go.
underestimate how ill careless exposure to the sun can make you –
there is no excuse for not protecting your children properly.
If you want to avoid
trouble – take care not to burn. It is particularly important to care
for your children, and babies should not be placed in direct sunlight
at all. Stay out of the sun for at least 2 hours around midday, use what
shade there is at other times, and cover up with a wide brimmed hat, and
tightly woven but loose clothing. Protective creams suitable for your
skin type can help protect unavoidably exposed parts of the body. Wear
sunglasses which filter UV to protect your eyes.
A separate risk of
overexposure to the sun is sunstroke or heatstroke, caused simply by overheating.
Avoid strenuous activity during the hottest hours, and make sure you drink
plenty of non-alcoholic liquids to balance the loss of body fluid through
perspiration. What you drink must be safe – either soft drinks from sealed
cans or bottles, or water which has been boiled.
how ill careless exposure to the sun can make you – there is no excuse
for not protecting your children properly.
INSECT AND ANIMAL BITES
Avoid insect and animal bites, tick borne diseases such
as tick borne encephalitis and borreliosis (Lymes disease) are prevalent
in temperate climates. It is therefore not only in tropical wooded areas
one needs to cover legs and arms. Use insect-repellent preparations.
Click here for more
details on protection against malaria.
Animal bites can set
up infections which can be serious and sometimes fatal. BE WARY OF
EVEN APPARENTLY TAME ANIMALS.
Click here for details on rabies.
CARE IN WATER
Do not go swimming alone. Bathing will cool you but remember
that fatal accidents can happen very easily and in the most unexpected
conditions. Adults should watch each other for signs of trouble when in
the water. Children should always be supervised by an adult who can swim
well. Young children should never be left unattended near a stretch of
water, even a paddling pool.
If you are going
to dive into water, make sure that it is deep enough for you to do so
safely. Each year, many people are permanently paralysed as a result of
injuries sustained from diving into shallow water.
CARE ON THE ROADS
Traffic accidents are the major cause of death among travellers.
Whether driver or pedestrian, always check on local traffic regulations.
If you are in a car, always wear seat belts. If on a motor or pedal bike,
always wear a helmet and put children in a child restraint. If you hire
a car or a bike, check its condition and the insurance cover. And never
drink and drive.
SPORTS AND DIVING
If you are going to take part in potentially hazardous sports such as
skiing, canoeing or mountaineering, follow all the relevant safety guidance;
make sure that there are adequate emergency medical facilities on hand;
and check that you have medical insurance which covers you fully in the
event of any accident. Divers should allow 24 hours between their last
dive and a flight.
NO GO’ AREAS
In many countries, there are areas which are unsafe for travellers to
visit because of the risk of violence. For guidance and information, please
use the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Advice to Travellers telephone
line: 020 7008 0232.
Even if you are only going on a day trip to another country,
accidents can happen. So please make sure you have adequate travel insurance,
and a completed Form E111 if you are visiting a country in the European