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UKHSA issues health travel warning after cases of salmonella are linked to travel to Turkey





Holidaymakers have been issued with a warning after an unusually high number of travellers have fallen ill with food poisoning.

The UK Health Security Agency says it has tracked close to 250 recent cases of sickness – many of which have connections to travel to Turkey.

Food poisoning can prove dangerous to the very young, elderly and those with weakened immune systems. Image: Stock photo.
Food poisoning can prove dangerous to the very young, elderly and those with weakened immune systems. Image: Stock photo.

With millions of people going abroad during the school holidays, UK health officials have now issued a warning to travellers – reminding them of the steps they can take to reduce the risk of contracting such infections.

Suspected salmonella cases

The UKHSA says it has identified ‘a number of clusters’ of food poisoning, many of which have links to recent holidays in Turkey.

Between January and July 19 – 241 instances have so far been confirmed to be salmonella – with the majority of tests and swabs taken from April onwards.

The organisation reports: “The UKHSA has detected a number of clusters of gastrointestinal illness in travellers returning from Turkey, the majority of these with travel to the Antalya region.

“Of the 93 cases for which detailed, confirmed travel information is available, these cases report staying in a number of different hotels in Turkey and most cases report eating a wide variety of different foods within their hotel resort as part of an all-inclusive holiday package.”

The UKHSA says clusters of salmonella poisoning have been linked with travel to Turkey. Image: iStock.
The UKHSA says clusters of salmonella poisoning have been linked with travel to Turkey. Image: iStock.

What is salmonella?

Salmonella is a bacteria that can cause food poisoning.

Eating something contaminated with the germ can happen if food hasn’t been cooked properly, has been left out for too long, was stored incorrectly or is eaten after its ‘use by’ date.

Symptoms of an infection can include sickness, an upset stomach, stomach cramps, a high temperature and a general feeling of being unwell. Sickness normally starts within hours or a day or two of ingesting the bacteria.

While most people recover on their own within a week, such infections can pose an increased risk to those that are vulnerable – such as the elderly, babies and children and those with other underlying medical conditions that affect their immune system.

Holidaymakers have been issued with a warning by the UKHSA
Holidaymakers have been issued with a warning by the UKHSA

What’s the UK government’s advice?

The source of the illness has not yet been identified, says the government, and investigations by the UKHSA are ongoing.

It is liaising with ABTA, Turkish public health authorities and other international public health partners to share information into the clusters it knows about, it says.

However with the summer holidays in full swing officials want to remind people of the simple steps they can take to reduce any risk of contracting food poisoning while they are travelling abroad in the coming weeks.

First and foremost – says the advice – hands should be washed thoroughly and regularly especially after using the toilet and before touching or eating any food.

When choosing what to eat when on holiday – recently prepared, thoroughly cooked food served piping hot, fruit that can be peeled by the traveller such as bananas or oranges and pasteurised dairy produce such as yoghurts, milk and cheese are all ‘good options’ adds the UKHSA.

Any perishable foods should also be kept cool in a fridge or freezer where possible prior to being eaten.

Holidaymakers can take ‘simple’ precautions say health officials
Holidaymakers can take ‘simple’ precautions say health officials

What should you do if you feel unwell?

Advice related to the outbreak, says the government, is available through the TravelHealthPro website which is dedicated to sharing official information for UK travellers.

Most cases of food poisoning will resolve themselves within a week, says the NHS, without the need for medical treatment. But those who are unwell should take regular fluids to avoid dehydration.

People sick with any gastrointestinal illness should also avoid preparing food or drinks for others until they are free of their own symptoms.



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