A warning has been issued as the authorities have not yet traced the source of a serious outbreak of illness which has hit travellers coming back from Turkey.
Millions of people fly from the UK to Turkey each year, and while most trips are unproblematic, government health bosses alerted people after almost 250 cases of gastrointestinal illness were found by the NHS in UK travellers who have returned from holiday
Most of the travellers had stayed in hotels in the Antalya region of Turkey and had contracted severe infections. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said it detected clusters of the Salmonella Enteritidis strain which they believe there is a common source of infection – as Wales Online reports.
An investigation was launched after 241 confirmed cases were found and discovered that many of the people had been staying in “all inclusive” hotels where food was laid on for everyone in buffets. In a new update, the UKHSA said the source has still not been found – so travellers should take extra care.
A spokesman for the UKHSA said: “As the source of illness has not been identified and investigations are ongoing, UKHSA is reminding people of simple steps they can take to reduce the risk of contracting gastrointestinal infections while travelling abroad including washing hands thoroughly, especially after using the toilet and before preparing or eating food.
“Recently prepared, thoroughly cooked food that is served piping hot, fruit that can be peeled by the traveller (such as bananas and oranges), and pasteurised dairy produce such as yoghurts, milk and cheese are good options for travellers. People feeling unwell with gastrointestinal illness should avoid preparing food or drinks for others until they are free of symptoms.”
The UKHSA managed to get full detailed travel information for 93 of the cases and said they: “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.”
UKHSA is liaising with ABTA, Turkish public health authorities and other international public health partners to inform investigations of these clusters. UKHSA is also working with the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) to ensure appropriate advice is in place for UK travellers.
Salmonella bacteria live in the gut of many farm animals. During rearing, slaughter and processing, the bacteria can be transferred into food products. Other foods like green vegetables, fruit and shellfish can become contaminated too.
Salmonella can have severe consequences. Symptoms include fever, abdominal pain (stomach cramps), diarrhoea, nausea, sometimes with vomiting. Often people get better after a week or so, but in cases involving children the elderly and those with weakened immune systems it can be more serious.