Friday, June 23, 2017

Reminder: Staying healthy on vacay

Ah, yes, infectious diseases--they are ever with us.

Brent W. Laarta, MD, author of How to Avoid Contagious Diseases (www.drlaartz.com) says 40% of travelers who bring back a major illness from their foreign travels.

He was one--on a horseback riding trip to Costa Rica (in his younger, more naive days).

Some tips he learned the hard way:

--Avoid local water in all forms. When you shower, no water in your mouth or eyes. Ask for a drink without ice. Bring iodine tablets and a water boiler to sanitize water for yourself,. Drink bottled. Be sure even bottled water is sealed.

--Protect your feet. Wear flipflops in the shower. Parasites can enter you through your feet. Never walk barefoot in any area of a foreign country--including in your hotel room.

--Beware of fruits, veggies, condiments. If you can't get an apple or banana that can be peeled, avoind fruit. Any fruit served fresh can be washed in local water or wiped by a kitchen rag (you don't want to know). You could even bring your own peeler. Forget coleslaw or anything with mayo.

--Bypass road stands and street food. It might smell great but not have been heated hot enough to kill things you want killed. In a restaurant the to-go Styrofoam box may be cleaner than the plate.

I had the parasite giardia once. You don't want this. Unfortunately I got it from a local takeout joint, not a nice trip to South America.

Even in America, see that sparkling stream tumbling along? Not fit to drink!

None of this is foolproof. Bring Imodium--in fact, carry it everywhere, even in the US. My advice.

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