Travelling To Egypt, Turkey Or Spain This Summer? Check Out This Need-To-Know Health Advice

All the ways to prevent an E. coli infection from ruining your holiday.
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A number of people, including children, have returned from the Hurghada region of Egypt with a serious illness caused by E. coli infection, Public Health England (PHE) has revealed.

As a result, the health body has issued advice to people travelling to Egypt, as well as Spain and Turkey, where E. coli infections are common.

Scientists are gathering further information to understand the cause of these infections but in the meantime, Public Health England shared tips for holiday-goers to avoid E. coli, which is caught through ingesting contaminated food or water.

The infection can cause an unpleasant illness with stomach cramps, diarrhoea and occasionally fever.

Most people will recover from an E. coli infection without the need for medical treatment, but younger and older people may go on to develop complications of the infection, leading to kidney failure. This rare condition is called haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), which in very rare circumstances can be fatal.

There have been 16 cases of HUS in individuals, including children, who have been to the Hurghada region of Egypt and returned to England between 2009 and 2019.

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So what should you do if you’re planning to travel to a country where E. coli is a problem? Public Health England urges people to avoid eating salads and uncooked vegetables, where possible, and to only eat fruit that can be peeled.

Avoid unpasteurised milk, cheese and ice cream, as well as food that has been left uncovered in warm environments and exposed to flies.

Meat should be cooked thoroughly before eating. The official advice is to avoid eating any meat that is pink or cold in these countries.

Steer clear of ice unless it’s made with with filtered or bottled water. If you’re brushing your teeth, avoid using tap water and make sure you buy a big bottle of water for your bedroom to use instead. It goes without saying you should only drink bottled water too.

As always, wash your hands thoroughly after visiting the toilet, and always before preparing or eating food, warns Public Health England. Gel hand sanitiser can be helpful – but not entirely effective – when hand washing facilities are not available.

If you go for a swim, avoid swallowing water where possible and supervise your children when they are swimming. If you’re feeling dodgy, avoid swimming as you might pass on the infection.

Dr Nick Phin, deputy director of the National Infection Service within Public Health England, said: “Anyone suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting should ensure they keep well hydrated and seek medical advice if their symptoms don’t improve within 48 hours.

“They should also avoid preparing or serving food while they have symptoms and thoroughly wash their hands after using the toilet to stop the bug being passed to others.”

Individuals with symptoms after returning from holiday should seek medical advice from their GP or NHS 111.