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Tips for Travelers

Stay safe while eating and drinking abroad

Do you have plans to jet set to a foreign country this spring break? Before traveling, it is important to brush up on the health risks associated with your desired destination.

Something as simple as a sip of tap water or a swim in an untreated pool or open water can put you at risk for diseases, as well as some infections of the ears, eyes, skin, and respiratory or nervous systems.

West Virginia University Extension Food Safety and Preservation Specialist Litha Sivanandan has information for you to consider when eating and drinking abroad to limit your risk of illness.

“Nobody wants to spend a vacation sick with a stomach bug or stuck in a hospital,” she said. “Education, prevention and preparation are the best ways to ensure a safe vacation.”

The first step of pre-departure planning is to gather travel information, including safety tips, illness risks, and food and water quality for your destination. Consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for more information.

Several infectious diseases, such as hepatitis A and cholera, can be acquired by ingesting tainted food and water. Symptoms can range from severe abdominal cramps to vomiting or diarrhea, which causes dehydration that can lead to hospitalization.

Start planning now to guarantee that you have safe food and beverage options while traveling outside of the United States.

What to know before you travel

Visit your doctor

The season, location and access to medical care are all things to consider before planning your trip. It’s important to visit your medical professional four to six weeks before traveling abroad. Our expert tells you how to prepare for the appointment and how to pack an emergency kits for travel.  View the list of medical recommendations

Don’t drink the water?

Not all overseas destinations have safe or chlorinated tap water available. There are many things to consider when selecting a beverage overseas. Is the seal intact? Has the water been boiled? Does it contain alcohol? Let our expert tell you how to determine the safety of a beverage. View beverage safety tips

Is the food safe to eat?

Spring break is a great time to travel to an exotic location and soak up the sun. However, not all countries maintain the same food and water qualities standards as the United States. Let our experts tell you what precautions to take when dining in another country.  View food safety tips

Can taking a swim make you sick?

Swimming in bodies of water can be a welcome refresher from the tropical heat. However, infection-causing pathogens that cause diarrhea, skin rashes and pink eye can be transmitted by ingesting or having contact with contaminated water in oceans, lakes, rivers, pools, water parks, fountains and hot tubs.