Travelling to developing countries in Africa, where there is poor sanitation and low hygienic standards, poses a high risk of food poisoning. Use these tips to survive.

Food poisoning is caused by eating spoiled, contaminated or toxic foods or drinking impure water. The specific cause can be attributed to bacteria, parasites or viruses. Dangerous bacteria include Salmonella and E.coli.Toxoplasma is a  parasite that causes food poisoning and lives in cat litter boxes. But, the biggest threat is from the norovirus. This virus causes over 19 million cases of food poisoning each year.

The most common source of food poisoning is raw food, eggs, undercooked meat, unpasteurised milk and human- contaminated food. The symptoms range from vomiting and diarrhea to dehydration, blood in the stool and paresthesia.

 

6 steps to survive food poisoning

  1. Be patient. The illness could last a couple of hours to a days. 
  2. Take a stool sample for diagnostic purposes.
  3. Stay fully hydrated. Drink 2 litres a day and a glass of water every time you are sick.
  4. Take rehydration salts or make your own. Mix a teaspoon of bicarb of soda and salt; add to 4 tablespoons of sugar;  and add to a litre of water.
  5. Call a doctor if your fever goes higher than 38°C or you notice blood in your stool.
  6. Take a course of prescribed antibiotics, depending on the severity of the food poisoning.

If you experience an explosive bout of food poisoning, speed your recovery using the techniques taught during the Emergency Medicine module of our H.E.A.T. course.

H.E.A.T. tip: To prevent food poisoning and mitigate the risk of eating bad food or drinking dirty water, remember to boil it, peel it, use hand sanitiser or forget it.