Some places have viruses that you are going to get no matter what if youre not from that area. We have had to call doctors to inject us in South Africa and Egypt from viruses that inflicted hundreds of people at the same hotel.
But... bali belly is something that heaps of people get in Bali/Thailand/Malaysia and yet we have been there at least 10 times since we had the kids, and haven't had it once. Yet kids would be touching the ground and walls and mould and who knows...so what is it? I have my theories...what are yours?
Prior to our latest trip I really thought this related to alcohol, cocktails and spirits to be exact. Due to having kids we really stick to beer or drinks like Bacardi breezers (in a bottle) so I thought it related to the liquers sitting in the sun or the ice in the slushie etc.
But... we met up with two separate families while away and in both cases their kids had gotten sick first then the adults. And in both cases they made comments like it didn't make sense as they only ate local food once and at hungry jacks or kfc the rest of the time. We never eat that food away as I figure I get food poisoning at home from kfc, why would I possibly eat it in a 3rd world country! Plus aren't we there to try another countries food/culture! We make sure we all eat local food and cooked food. No precut salad and minimal ice. Rice and noodles it is for us and our kids!
So now i'm thinking it is that... it is eating fast food when people happen to be hungover or kids that want chips and nuggets (why wont they eat rice - I find this weird). So when people don't eat freshly cooked food...
I don't have a whole lot of information on this, but did have one thought. When eating at fast food places, it is easy to feel relatively secure in the food, but not recognize that the fountain soda is made with local water mixed with the syrup. Add in some ice, and what seems like a meal from home now has a big glass of local water in the mix.
Whether that would be enough to cause problems is something I don't know. Anyhow, it is food for thought, or in this case, soda for thought.
I spent 35 years in the travel industry and have travelled a lot since then too, including frequent visits to India - home of 'Delhi Belly'. Over the years, I had more than my fair share of travellers' diarrhoea ('diarrhea' if you're across the pond) - until I found ways to avoid it!
Bali Belly, Delhi Belly and Montezuma's Revenge, my research told me, can sometimes result from eating spicy food or drinking too much booze. However, it is more often caused by bacteria called Escherichia coli (E. coli); while most forms are harmless, some can cause serious infection or food poisoning.
These nasty bacteria are a measure of general hygiene (or lack of it!) and faecal contamination. Food prepared by people who haven't washed their hands properly after going to the toilet is a common way for these bugs to reach your mouth. That's why it's so familiar in India, where the left hand does the job of the developed world's toilet paper!
Meat that's not been thoroughly cooked to a high heat, contaminated water (from the tap or in ice), unpasteurized dairy products, and raw vegetables and fruit are also potential carriers of the bacteria. Touching animals and even swallowing water while swimming in infected hotel pools, lakes and ponds can be other ways for the retched bug to reach your stomach. I learnt the hard way that caution was necessary too at hotel and restaurant buffets, where mildly-infected hot food could cool sufficiently to allow the bacteria to multiply!
So, to avoid devouring the bacteria, avoid its potential breeding grounds - contaminated food and liquids. Simple!
Having said that, a few years ago I discovered something that's enabled me to eat more or less whatever I like while travelling in countries with suspect standards of hygiene. It's called colostrum. Yes, colostrum - a form of breast milk produced by animals and humans. It contains antibodies which boost the immune system and protect the newborn against disease. Capsules of bovine colostrum can be bought online. You take two before each meal. I start taking them a week before travelling and then religiously before every meal while abroad. Of course, I also try to follow the golden rules of 'if you can't peel it, boil it or cook it, forget it!', but I know colostrum is the 'magic pill' that works for me!
Unsafe food handling practices mainly spring to mind. A certain hotel in Krabi is notorious for its outbreaks of e coli caused ''travelers virus''. Food is delivered to the dock by boat and manually lugged back and forth and sits behind the kitchen waiting to be sorted out in the hot sun. I suspect a lot of restaurants are not using refrigerated transport as our digestive systems are used to Tam, it would be ludicrous to expect that same level of hygiene in another country. Mikes point about undercooking got me thinking...isnt it amazing sometimes in s.e.asia how fast your meal gets to the table - I wonder how much a part of it that is.
I drink a lot of probiotics anyway at home so try to remember to throw a few capsules in when im traveling..try being the operative word. I should remember them more often but so far, touch wood, I havent been really sick traveling yet. Yet.