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Travel Health

Local health units throughout British Columbia provide travel clinics that provide travel immunizations. For more information regarding directories of travel clinics throughout BC review the Public Health Agency of Canada's Travel Clinic listing site.

Risks From Food and Drink

Contaminated food and drink are common sources for the introduction of infection into the body. Among the more common infections that travelers can acquire from contaminated food and drink are Escherichia coli infections (E.coli), shigellosis or bacillary dysentery, giardiasis (or Beaver Fever), cryptosporidiosis, and hepatitis A

Other less common infectious disease risks for travelers include typhoid fever and other salmonelloses, cholera, infections caused by rotavirus and Norwalk-like viruses, and a variety of protozoan and helminthic parasites (other than those that cause giardiasis and cryptosporidiosis). Many of the infectious diseases transmitted in food and water can also be acquired directly through the fecal-oral route.
backpacker 

Water


Water that has been adequately chlorinated, using minimum recommended water treatment standards employed in the United States, will afford significant protection against viral and bacterial waterborne diseases. However, chlorine treatment alone, as used in the routine disinfection of water, might not kill some enteric viruses and the parasitic organisms that cause giardiasis, amebiasis, and cryptosporidiosis.
In areas where chlorinated tap water is not available or where hygiene and sanitation are poor, travelers should be advised that only the following might be safe to drink:

  • Beverages, such as tea and coffee, made with boiled water.
  • Canned or bottled carbonated beverages, including carbonated bottled water and soft drinks.
  • Beer and wine.
Where water might be contaminated, travelers should be advised that ice should also be considered contaminated and should not be used in beverages. If ice has been in contact with containers used for drinking, travelers should be advised to thoroughly clean the containers, preferably with soap and hot water, after the ice has been discarded. It is safer to drink a beverage directly from the can or bottle than from a questionable container.
However, water on the outside of beverage cans or bottles might be contaminated also. Therefore, travelers should be advised to dry wet cans or bottles before they are opened, and to wipe clean surfaces with which the mouth will have direct contact. Where water might be contaminated, travelers should be advised to avoid brushing their teeth with tap water.
Last Updated: February 3, 2010