August 1, 2015
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Travel Medicine (cont.)

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What is safe to eat and drink while traveling?

  • In general, it is best not to drink tap water in a developing country.
  • Ice is not safe in areas where the water supply may be contaminated. Freezing water does not destroy most infections.
  • Boiled water and drinks made from boiled water (tea) are usually safe.
  • Alcohol (beer, wine) is usually safe.
  • Carbonated bottled water or sodas are usually safe. Uncarbonated bottled water may be safe, but even bottled water may be filled up from the local tap water source.
  • Iodine tablets or commercially available water filters may be used to purify water when camping.
  • In general, foods that you peel yourself (bananas) are safe.
  • Hot, well-cooked foods are usually safe.
  • Spices do not kill bacteria. Food can be so spicy that it burns your mouth and still cause traveler's diarrhea or more serious diseases.
  • Foods that put the traveler at high risk for infection include undercooked meat and seafood.
  • Foods washed in contaminated water may have a residue of bacteria.

What can I do to avoid insect bites?

  • Wear light, protective clothing.
  • Use insect repellents that contain DEET (most popular brand-name insect repellents in the United States contain DEET). Reapply according to directions. When using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and then repellent.
  • If you are hiking, tuck your pant leg into your sock. Check yourself over for ticks at the end of the hike.
  • Use mosquito nets or window screens if they are available.
  • Products that contain permethrin (NIX, an insect repellent) are available to spray on your clothes or tent for added protection.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/30/2014


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