News story

How to avoid Delhi belly and the plight of the bite

Advice for travellers going to the Indian subcontinent to stay healthy during Diwali.


Public Health England (PHE) and the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) would like to remind travellers from the UK visiting friends and relatives in the Indian subcontinent during the festivities of Diwali (23 October 2014), to practice good food and water hygiene and to avoid insect bites.

Visiting friends and relatives is still the most common reason for travel after taking holidays. People who travel for this reason often travel for longer periods of time and usually stay within the family or friend’s home. They effectively become members of the local population while they are there and are consequently exposed to similar infectious risks.

Dr Jane Jones, an expert in travel health at PHE, said:

We strongly advise all travellers to seek health advice before you travel, even if the country you are visiting is familiar to you or your family. People who visit friends and family abroad are disproportionately affected by some preventable infectious disease such as enteric fever, hepatitis A and travellers’ diarrhoea.

You should make sure you get the appropriate immunisations for your visit and you can reduce the risk of diarrhoea by following some basic food and water hygiene advice.

  • maintain good hand hygiene by washing hands after visiting the toilet, and always before preparing or eating food
  • use alcohol gel when hand-washing facilities are not available
  • avoid potentially risky foods such as salads, peeled fruit and vegetables, cold meats, ice cream, eggs and shellfish
  • avoid drinking tap water, including in ice

Dr Dipti Patel, joint director at NaTHNaC, said

Diseases spread by mosquitoes such as dengue fever and malaria may also be a risk. To reduce the risk of being bitten use recommended insect repellents and wear appropriate clothing - such as long sleeve tops and trousers to reduce the amount of skin being exposed. You should also check whether you need antimalarial tablets with your general practice, travel health clinic, or pharmacy.

Make your Diwali special for yourself, your family and your friends and stay healthy!

Notes to Editors:

  • More information about travellers’ diarrhoea is available from the PHE website.
  • Further information on insect bite avoidance and food and water hygiene is available from the NaTHNaC website, as well as country-specific immunisation and malaria prevention advice.
  • PHE commission the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) to provide advice to travellers.
  • Public Health England’s mission is to protect and improve the nation’s health and to address inequalities through working with national and local government, the NHS, industry and the voluntary and community sector. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health. Follow us on Twitter @PHE_uk

Photo by Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier. Used under Flickr Creative Commons

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Published 21 October 2014