FOOD & WATER-BORNE DISEASES
Prevention is the best cure: be sure that food is properly cooked and the drinking water is clean. In Turkey, where the risk of contracting traveler’s diarrhea or other diseases is high, you should never drink un-bottled water unless you have treated it. To do so, bring the water to a rolling boil or treat it with iodine tablets. Note however, that some parasites such as giardia have exteriors that resist iodine treatment, making boiling water more reliable. Bottled water, widely available, is very cheap, and a large bottle typically sells for less than US$ 50 in risk areas, don’t brush your teeth with tap water or rinse your toothbrush under the faucet, and keep your mouth closed in the shower. Peel fruits and vegetables and avoid ice cubes as well as anything washed in tap water, like salad. Watch out for food from markets or street vendors. Other culprits are raw shellfish, unpasteurized milk, and sauces containing raw eggs. Always wash your hands before eating or bring a quick-drying purifying liquid hand cleaner. Your bowels will thank you.
Results from drinking untreated water or eating uncooked foods; a temporary (and fairly common) reaction to bacteria in food. Symptoms include nausea, bloating, urgency, and malaise. Eat quick-energy, non-sugary foods with protein and carbohydrates. Over-the-counter anti-diarrheals (e.g. immodium) may counteract the problems, but can complicate serious infections. The most dangerous side effect is dehydration; drink 8oz. of water with ‘Atsp. of sugar or honey and a pinch of salt, try uncaffeinated soft drinks, or munch on salted crackers. If you develop a fever or if symptoms persist for more than 4-5 days, consult a doctor. Also consult a doctor for treat¬ment of diarrhea in children.
Results from a serious intestinal infection caused by certain bacteria. The most common type is bacillary dysentery, also called shigellosis. Symptoms include bloody diarrhea (sometimes mixed with mucus), fever, and abdominal pain and tenderness. Bacillary dysentery generally only lasts one week, but it is highly contagious. Amoebic dysentery, which develops more slowly, is a more serious disease and may cause long-term damage if left untreated. A stool test can determine which kind you have; seek medical help immediately. Dysentery can be treated with the drugs norfloxacin or ciprofloxacin (commonly known as Cipro). If you are traveling in high-risk (especially rural) regions, consider obtaining a prescription before you leave home.
An Intestinal disease caused by bacteria found in contaminated food. Symptoms include diarrhea, dehydration, vomiting, and muscle cramps. See a doctor immediately; if left untreated, it may be fatal. Antibiotics are available, but the most important treatment is rehydration. Consider getting a vaccine (50% effective) if you have stomach problems (e.g. ulcers) or will be living where the water is not safe.
A viral Infection of the liver acquired primarily through contaminated water. Symptoms include fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, nausea, dark urine, jaundice, vomiting, aches, and light stools. The risk is highest in rural areas, but is also present in urban districts. Ask your doctor about the vaccine or an injection of immune globulin.
Microbes or tapeworms that hide in unsafe water and food. Giardiasis, is acquired by drinking untreated water from streams or lakes. Symptoms include swollen glands or lymph nodes, fever, rashes or itchiness, digestive problems, eye problems, and anemia. Boil water, wear shoes, avoid bugs, and eat only cooked food.
Also known as bilharzia; a parasitic disease caused when larvae of flat- worms found in freshwater penetrate unbroken skin. Symptoms include an itchy, localized rash, followed in 4-6 weeks by fever, fatigue, painful urination, diarrhea, loss of appetite, night sweats, and a hive-like rash on the body. If exposed to untreated water, rub the area vigorously with a towel and apply rubbing alcohol. Schistosomiasis can be treated with prescription drugs. In general, avoid swimming in fresh water.
Typhoid fever: Caused by salmonella bacteria; common in villages and rural areas in Turkey. While mostly transmitted through contaminated food and water, Typhoid may also be acquired by direct contact with another person. Early symptoms include fever, headaches, fatigue, loss of appetite, constipation, and a rash on the abdomen or chest. Antibiotics can treat typhoid, but a vaccination (70-90% effective) is recommended.