Food & Hygiene
If you eat every meal you are offered, anywhere in the tropics, you will undoubtedly become ill. Be selective. Possible disease hazards range from minor bouts of travellers’ diarrhoea to dysentery and more serious parasitic diseases that may ruin your trip, so precautions are worthwhile. Always choose food that has been freshly and thoroughly cooked, and is served hot.
Avoid buffet food, or anything that has been re-heated or left exposed to flies. Avoid seafood. Raw fruit and vegetables tend to be very difficult to sterilise: don’t eat them unless they have been carefully and thoroughly washed in clean water, or are easy to cut open or peel without contaminating the flesh. In the tropics, the easiest and safest fruits are bananas and papayas.
Do not be afraid to reject food you consider unsafe, to ask for something to be prepared specially, or to skip a meal.
Only drink water that you know is safe. Don’t drink tap water or brush your teeth with it, stick to bottled or canned drinks – well known brands are safe. Have bottled mineral waters opened in your presence, and regard all ice as unsafe. Alcohol does not sterilise a drink!
If in doubt, purify water by boiling or with chlorine or iodine, or using a water purifier. (One of the safest methods is to use 2 percent tincture of iodine: add 1 drop of iodine to each cup of water, and wait 20 minutes before drinking.)