British Public Health issues advice to people travelling to Egypt

epa06089311 A tourist looks on from a boat next to the Egyptian flag, in Hurghada, 450km south east of Cairo, Egypt, 15 July 2017. A day earlier, two German female tourists were killed and four other female tourists, one Czech, two Armenian, and one with an unconfirmed nationality wounded after the man attacked them at the Zahabia hotel and Sunny Days El Palacio resort with a knife. According to a statement from the Egyptian Interior Ministry, the assailant swam from a nearby public beach. The assailant was captured and is being questioned by the police with his motive not yet clear. EPA/STR

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The British Public Health England (PHE)  is issuing advice to people travelling to Egypt after a number of people, including children, have returned with a serious illness caused by E. coli infection.

All travellers had been to the Hurghada region of Egypt. Public Health England’s (PHE’s) scientists are gathering further information to understand the cause of these infections.

  1. coli can cause an unpleasant diarrhoeal illness with stomach cramps and occasionally fever. Most people will recover without the need for medical treatment, but younger and older people may go on to develop complications of the infection, leading to kidney failure. This rare condition is called haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), which in very rare circumstances can be fatal.
  2. coli is caught through ingesting contaminated food or water.

PHE recommends travellers to the region to:

  • where possible, avoid eating salads and uncooked vegetables
  • only eat fruit they can peel
  • avoid unpasteurised milk, cheese and ice cream
  • avoid food that has been left uncovered in warm environments and exposed to flies
  • ensure all meat is cooked thoroughly before you eat it, avoiding any meat that is pink or cold
  • avoid ice, unless made with filtered or bottled water, and tap water, even when brushing teeth
  • only drink bottled water or use ice made from bottled/filtered water
  • wash your hands thoroughly after visiting the toilet, and always before preparing or eating food. Alcohol gel can be helpful (but not entirely effective) when hand washing facilities are not available
  • when swimming, try and avoid swallowing water where possible and supervise children when swimming.
  • don’t swim whilst ill
  • This advice also applies to other countries where E. coli infections are common, including Turkey and Spain.

 

Dr Nick Phin, Deputy Director, National Infection Service, Public Health England, said that PHE is aware of people returning from Egypt with E. coli infections, some with a serious kidney complication called haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS). Hence, PHE is gathering information about those affected to better understand the cause.

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