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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Medicine


Hygiene

  • What should I particularly watch out for when consuming water and food in far-off countries?
    In many regions of the world, clean drinking water is not something that can be taken for granted – although the availability of clean, unpolluted water is one of the most important prerequisites for good health. Water can be contaminated by microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, parasites), but also by chemicals such as heavy metals or insecticides. Germ contamination mostly stems from faecal waste. Approximately 80 per cent of all illnesses in tropical countries are caused by polluted water!

    Here are some hygiene tips relating to drinking water and food:
    • The most important rule of thumb is: "Peel it, boil it, cook it, or forget it!"
    • Find out if the tap water is of drinking-water quality.
    • If the tap water is not suitable for drinking, or it is not possible to find out about the quality, it can be made potable by means of the following methods:
    • Boil the water for at least 5–10 minutes. Attention! At high altitudes (Andes, Himalayas), this method is not usually sufficient.
    • Purify the water with a filter system (e.g. KatadynŽ); this method is, however, rather time-consuming.
    • Disinfect the water chemically by using iodine, silver or chlorine tablets (e.g. MicropurŽ, Aqua CleanŽ).
    • Consistently avoid drinking anything containing ice cubes; they are usually made with contaminated water.
    • Water from unopened original bottles can be drunk without hesitation.
    • Clean your teeth only with purified water. Even just a mouthful of contaminated water can cause diarrhoea. This also applies when taking tablets.
    • Do not bathe in tropical waters, such as rivers, lakes or ponds.
    • The consummation of freshly boiled, hot tea or coffee poses no problem.

     

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