Vacation Woes: How to Avoid E. coli Food Poisoning Abroad


Posted in General Travel Travel Insurance, travel tips on 28 June 2024

As summer approaches, families everywhere are packing their bags and setting off on their adventures. Whether you're exploring the historic streets of Europe, relaxing on tropical beaches, or indulging in exotic cuisines, nothing can put a damper on your holiday faster than an unexpected bout of food poisoning.

At Voyager Plus Travel Insurance, we aim to keep you informed about the risks of E. coli and how to safeguard your health while traveling abroad. Here’s what you need to know to keep your trip enjoyable and illness-free.

Understand E. coli: What You Need to Know

Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a bacteria commonly found in the intestines of humans and animals. While many strains are harmless, some can cause severe food poisoning. The most common E. coli symptoms include:

  • Severe stomach cramps
  • Bloody Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever

These symptoms can appear within hours to days after exposure and can last up to a week or longer in severe cases.

How Can You Catch E. coli?

E. coli can be contracted through several routes, most commonly through:

  • Consuming contaminated food or water
  • Eating undercooked or raw meat
  • Contact with infected animals or their environment
  • Poor hygiene, such as not washing hands properly after using the restroom or before eating (especially during food preparation)

When traveling, particularly in areas with varying sanitation standards, the risk of encountering E. coli increases.

Safety Tips for Avoiding Shark Encounters
  • Swim in Groups: Sharks are more likely to attack solitary individuals.
  • Avoid Wearing Jewellery: Reflective jewellery can resemble fish scales and attract sharks.
  • Stay Close to Shore: You're less likely to encounter sharks in shallow waters.
  • Avoid Swimming at Dusk or Dawn: These are peak feeding times for sharks.
  • Heed Local Warnings: Always follow local advice and respect posted warnings about shark sightings.
Higher Risk for Children and the Elderly

Young children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable because of their weakened immune systems. Therefore, families travelling with kids or senior members should take extra precautions to prevent illness.

Preventing E. coli on Your Travels
  1. Practice Good Hygiene: Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, especially before eating and after using the restroom.
  2. Be Cautious with Food and Water: Avoid raw or undercooked meats, unpasteurised dairy products, and food from street vendors. Stick to bottled water and avoid ice in drinks unless you’re certain it’s made from safe water.
  3. Choose Restaurants Wisely: Opt for places that are busy and have a good reputation. Higher turnover means fresher food and a lower chance of contamination.
  4. Use Hand Sanitiser: Carry a hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol for times when soap and water aren’t available.
What to Do If You Get Sick Abroad

Despite your best efforts, sometimes illness is unavoidable. Here’s what to do if you or a travelling family member/friend fall ill with E. coli while on holiday:

  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, which can be a serious concern with E. coli due to vomiting and diarrhoea.
  • Seek Medical Attention: Don’t hesitate to seek medical treatment at a local clinic or hospital should you have severe symptoms. If your symptoms aren’t severe but are concerning you then with a Voyager Plus Travel Insurance policy, you can book an appointment with GP on Demand where a remote GP can give you help, advice, and diagnosis for your condition.

Food poisoning on holiday is a nightmare scenario for any traveller, but with awareness and preparation, you can significantly reduce your risk. As the majority of cases come from eating contaminated food, where possible, do your best to eat foods which have been well prepared and cooked and if you’re not sure, it’s best not to eat it!

GP on Demand: Your Health Support Abroad

All Voyager Plus policies include access to a 24/7 remote, UK GP with GP on Demand. If you need to speak to a doctor whilst abroad but aren’t sure where to go or face a language barrier, GP on Demand can help.

With 24/7 access 365 days of the year, no matter when you’re travelling, you can book a telephone or video appointment with an NHS practicing doctor to discuss anything troubling you – including food poisoning.

Get Your Travel Insurance with Voyager Plus

Voyager Plus policies offer four levels of cover, including Single Trip and Annual Multi-Trip Travel Insurance options, access to GP on Demand, and include cover for the following:

  • Emergency Medical Expenses – up to £10,000,000
  • Cancellation Cover – up to £10,000
  • Baggage Cover – up to £3,500
  • 100s of activities covered as standard
  • Cover for 100s of pre-existing medical conditions

And so much more!

For a Voyager Plus Travel Insurance quote, click the “Get A Quote” button below or by calling our UK Based Call Centre on 01483 806 680.

Get a Quote

To discover exactly what a Voyage Plus Travel Insurance policy cover, please see our policy wording.

Peace of Mind with Family Travel Insurance

Voyager Plus Travel Insurance offers various plans, including Family Travel Insurance cover and Family Travel Insurance for Europe, and worldwide Family Travel Insurance, designed to provide peace of mind on your adventures. With the right precautions and cover in place, you can focus on making memories, not managing medical bills.

This article is for information and entertainment purposes only. It does not constitute advice in any way. The information provided here is correct at the time of writing however please check the latest policy wording for the latest terms, conditions, and exclusions.


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