When you are away..

Prevent Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea affects up to 80% of people travelling abroad, particularly to countries where there are poorly developed systems or no systems for managing water and sewage.

Carefully choosing and preparing food and drink is the best way to prevent diarrhoea.

  • Always peel or shell fruit and vegetables before eating

  • Always boil tap water or unbottled water before drinking or using to wash food or cutlery.

  • Make sure that cooked food has been thoroughly and freshly cooked.

  • Wash your hands in hot water after using the toilet and before preparing food.

  • Use bottled water to brush teeth.

  • Boil unpasteurised (raw) milk before use.

The following foods are high risk for causing diarrhoea, so avoid them:

  • Unpasteurised milk

  • Non-bottled drinks, including tap water

  • Ice cubes

  • Uncooked food, such as salads, cold meats

  • Dishes containing raw or undercooked eggs

  • Ice-cream from unreliable sources

  • Undercooked shellfish such as oysters, mussels, clams

What to do if you get diarrhoea

Diarrhoea increases your risk of becoming dehydrated, particularly in warm countries. If you get diarrhoea:

  • Drink plenty of bottled water or bottled non-alcoholic drinks, boiled or treated water or weak tea.

  • If diarrhoea continues for more than 1 day, use oral rehydration salts.

  • Contact a doctor if the diarrhoea lasts for more than 3 days, or if there are very frequent watery bowel movements, blood in stools, repeated vomiting.

  • If you have a fever with the diarrhoea contact, a doctor immediately.

Remember young children and older people may become dehydrated very quickly.

Be sun smart

Strong sunlight can cause premature ageing of the skin, painful sunburn and skin cancer. A tan is a sign that damaged skin is trying to protect itself from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Even when you have a tan you can still get sunburn. So be sun smart.

Cover Up

  • Wear a wide brimmed hat and a t-shirt.

  • Wear sunglasses.


  • Avoid being out in the sun between 11am and 3pm.


  • Use sunscreen of sun protection factor (SPF) 15 or higher, with UVA and UVB protection.

  • Re-apply sunscreen every 2 hours.

Children's skin is very sensitive to the sun's rays. All children should be protected in the sun. Babies should be kept out of the sun entirely.

Skin Cancer – what to look out for

  • New lumps and growths

  • A sore that does not heal

  • Change in colour, shape, size of moles or pigmented spots.

  • Scaling red areas which bleed easily.

Many skin changes will be harmless, but if any change persists contact a doctor.

Take care to avoid other health risks

As well as travel vaccinations there are a number of things you can do to protect your health when travelling abroad and prevent illnesses such as:

  • Sexually Transmitted Infections


  • Malaria

  • Rabies

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s)

STI’s are infections, which can be passed on from one person to another during sexual contact.

Anyone who is sexually active and not in a monogamous relationship is at risk of being infected with an STI

Bacteria, viruses and other microscopic organisms, which are present in the blood, semen, body fluids or pubic area of an infected person, cause STI’s.

Most STI’s (except HIV/AIDS) can be cured with treatment, once they have been diagnosed.

How to avoid infection with STI’s

Abstention: STI’s are passed on by sexual contact with an infected person. Not having sex at all is a certain way of avoiding infection.
Limit Partners: Nobody has a natural immunity to STI’s. A once only contact may be the cause of infection. Also, the more partners you have the greater your risk of catching an infection.
Use a Condom: For sexually active people who are not in a monogamous relationship, the proper use of a good quality condom will significantly reduce the risk of infection. Condoms, however, do not offer total protection as they may fail during use.

Remember, if you take drugs or alcohol, it increases your chances of taking part in activities that carry a risk of HIV, Hepatitis and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s) being passed on.

Signs and Symptoms of STI’s

Most STI’s have no signs or symptoms. People who are infected look perfectly healthy.

If you are sexually active and notice any of the following symptoms, contact a doctor:

  • Unusual discharge from the penis or vagina

  • Pain when passing urine

  • Unusual sores or blisters in the genital area

  • Itching or irritation in the genital area

  • Pain during sex

The sooner an STI is diagnosed and treated, the greater the chance of it being completely cured without any complications.


HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the infection that causes AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) and it’s a blood borne infection. There are no HIV free areas of the world.

Reduce your risk of contracting HIV by:

  • Always wearing a condom and limiting your sexual partner’s

  • Avoid using drugs and alcohol. If you take drugs with alcohol, it increases your chances of taking part in activities that carry a risk of HIV and other blood borne infections such as STI’s and Hepatitis B.

  • Reduce your chances of needing a blood transfusion by avoiding accidents

  • If you need a blood transfusion, check with the doctor that the blood has been screened.

  • Avoid using needles or devices that puncture the skin, for example in acupuncture, tattooing or electrolysis.

  • If you do need to have an injection for medical reasons, check that the new needle and syringe are used.

  • Avoid dental treatment in countries where sterilisation may not be adequate.


Malaria is caused by bites from infected mosquitoes. It is endemic in mosquitoes in African, Asian and South American countries. If you are travelling to or through Africa, Asia or South America asks your doctor for anti-malarial tablets.

You may need to take the tablets for some time before you travel, so check with your doctor when and how to take your tablets.

As well as taking anti-malarial tablets, avoid mosquito bites by:

  • Covering your arms and legs when outdoors after sunset, preferably using light coloured clothing.

  • Sleep in screened accommodation or use mosquito nets.

  • Use insect repellents


Rabies is extremely rare and is endemic in dogs, cats and other animals in most parts of the world including Continental Europe. It is spread through bites or licks on broken skin from infected animals.

  • You should not bring pets to countries where rabies is endemic, and you should not bring animals to Ireland from these countries.

  • Care should be taken when in close contact with animals abroad.

  • If you are going to be in close contact with animals when abroad, speak with your doctor or vaccination clinic about vaccination.

If you’re bitten or scratched by an animal while abroad, contact a doctor at once. Vaccination immediately after a bite or scratch considerably reduces your chances of getting rabies.