I'm going to spend one week in Paris and another in London and I'm worried about food safety and also the availability of drinking water in those places. What special health precautions should I take?
Rodrigo, you don't have much to be concerned about with food and water safety in those destinations. Just follow the usual common sense rules about fresh food and clean drinking vessels (you know, don't buy the salmon sandwhich that's been sitting in the shop window for a day!).
However, DO expect to get Traveller's Diarrhoea, it's inevitable, most people get it. It's not because the water is unsafe. All water contains microbes and some level of bacterium, which is usually harmless. But everyone get's used to the particular cocktail in their own local water - go somewhere else and get a slightly different cocktaiul and you get an upset stomach. It shouldn't last more than a few days (if it does, see a doctor) and it's only mildly inconvenient.
You could try drinking ONLY bottled water for the whole trip, but that doesn't always mean you'll avoid TD.
Phil almost 9 years ago
sorry I was confused because the E. Coli outbreak is concentrated in Northern Germany, so I didn't get the connection to Paris and London, but I see what you mean now.
2800 people in 14 countries have contracted the infection, and 29 of the (now) 30 deaths are in Germany (the other one was in Sweden). All the people who sadly died had either been to the Hamburg region or were in close contact with someone who had (usually a spouse or family member).
While it's possible you'll touch a Parisian door handle also used in the last few minutes by someone who's just returned from Hamburg and has eaten contaminated food - it's not very likely. (And could just as easily happen in your home city - which is precisely how it's been spreading).
Fortunately the number of new cases of E. Coli infection is falling sharply, so that will significantly reduce the spread of the infection, further reducing the risk to you in London and Paris.Slip a little bottle of anti-bacterial hand gel in your pocket and use it regularly and liberally. Keep your hands away from your mouth, nose and eyes at all times.
As for the primary source of the infection - the mystery food - Put bluntly, E. Coli comes from cow poo, and often turns up in ground meat (mince). In this case it's possible it has come from cow manure used as fertiliser on vegetables (which were then eaten raw - and not thoroughly washed). E. Coli is destroyed by the cooking process, so to reduce your risk of exposure make sure all your food is properly cooked. No undercooked ground meat (ie not pink in the middle of your burger), and no vegetables which have not been thoroughly washed and/or cooked at high temperature.
So 3 things you can do to reduce your risk: reduce exposure to possibly infected persons, reduce your exposure to possibly infected foods, reduce your exposure to the city of Hamburg (for the time being).
Hope that helps. Phil almost 9 years ago