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Traveller's diarrhea in greece?

Montreal, Canada
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Traveller's diarrhea in greece?

Hey all,

We will be leaving for Greece in one week and I was wondering about the risk of traveller's diarrhea in Greece?

I already talked to my doctor about it and the CDC warns about it, but I would like to know if there was places to "avoid" when it comes to food. I know that more expensive doesn't mean cleaner, but are tavernas usually clean? We're planning to eat a lot there because we're on a tight budget.

My doctor also told me to avoid unpeeled fruits, but also salads! I thought this was exagerated...

Please share your experience!

Thanks in advance.

Delphi,Greece
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1. Re: Traveller's diarrhea in greece?

Yes, tht's exagerated!

Food quality in Greece is high,cleaning standards too.

If you have any upset tummies or something, that will possibly be due to tasting different products and food combinations to these you are used too, rather than due to a virous or something...

Usually water (yes, bottle water too) contains many minerals and some visitors are not used to that too, but I wouldn't worry too much.

united kingdom
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2. Re: Traveller's diarrhea in greece?

I have been going to Greece for over 20 years now and never had a problem .

Why would you think tavernas would not be clean in Greece though ?

The Greek food is lovely and we have never had a problem with cleanliness or stomach troubles ever. I have always ate the salads etc and I also can not see a problem with the fruit as even at home you should wash it .

Beaumont, Texas USA
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3. Re: Traveller's diarrhea in greece?

No, Greece is NOT like Mexico... especially where fresh fruit and vegetables are concerned. Most of the very few problems I have heard about in Greece are caused by packaged or imported foods, not locally grown produce.

However, if you buy produce from the market, do take normal precautions of washing it thoroughly before consumption. Also be sure any meat is completely cooked, just to be on the safe side. On that note, I have never encountered undercooked meat, nor seen Greeks asking for meat prepared rare like they do here in the USA.

If you have a sensitive system, and if you do not regularly eat much oil or fats, there are some dishes that might cause a temporary disturbance, merely because your digestive tract is not used to handling these materials.

With the exception of a few islands, the water in Greece is also very safe, and tastes good, too. Investigate the areas you plan to visit, and drink bottled water where that is recommended.

Take normal precautions, like you would dining anywhere, and enjoy the wonderful food Greece has to offer! Happy Travels!

Athens, Greece
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4. Re: Traveller's diarrhea in greece?

CDC page re: Greece is in big detail the same as for France, UK, even USA.

I am copying the exact same text from what is written in info page regarding USA:

USA info page:

"Be Careful about Food and Water

Diseases from food and water are the leading cause of illness in travelers. Follow these tips for safe eating and drinking:

* Avoid unpasteurized dairy products.

* Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially before eating. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand gel (with at least 60% alcohol).

Diseases from food and water often cause vomiting and diarrhea."

No reason to repeat myself saying that the same info is written in Canada's page.

These instructions are of general use, as you see, in any Western World country. Are they useful? Yes, but untill a certain extent.

Anywhere in the Western World, you have to be a little bit cautious on where you eat and what you consume.

I have found most useful the "wash your hands" advice which one of the most easy ways to protect your body.

Consuming non-washed fruits is a no-no everywhere in the world, and has nothing to do with water cleaning, since these fruits are unwashed. Everywhere in the world, fruits may have been sprayed when cultivated, so you have to was any fruit, even if you are planning to peel it. My friends think i am crazy ( lol ) but i wash fruits with soap, rinse them very good and consume the peeled ( not oranges for God's sake, lo, i mean fruits like apples, pears and so, lol ). So, if you plan to consume fruits you buy, do was them.

Keep in mind that getting an upset stomach may be part of travelling in any corner of the Western World. What CDC prmarily warns against is the occasional diarrhea problems you may have everywhere. This is in most of the cases caused by change of diet, either you stay in Canada and go to Greece, or you stay in Greece and go to Canada.

What CDC does not warn against, is the reverse thing ( you understand what ytou mean ) which may not be "dangerous" but for some people it is a source of major discomfort during travelling.

So ( with the exception of "do not eat salads" ) i would follow your physician's advise and CDC advise, having in mind that these are general advices, given everywhere in the Western World. Even if you travel from Europe to Canada.

- Moderation is the key in these cases.

- Bottled water seems to help in this cases too, since in most cities water has high minerals ratio and may upset your stomoach ( or even bring the reverse effect to some people ). Some people may anyway have problem with bottled water too everywhere in the world.

- Take it easy and adjust. Balanced meals are a key. Some people are used to a daily routine of 2 - 4 meals per day and come here and forget everything rushing to sightsee all day. Keep your usual daily routine re: meals per day and don't overload your stomach with one huge meal per day ( yes, we eat a lot, lol ).

- Besides stomach, what is not given as a usual advice is protect your body / face against sun + heat. I am really astonished every summer to see light skin combination visitors to walk around in 2pm with no-protection even some sunglasses. So, remember: a sunhat, good sunglasses, sunblock and comfy shoes to walk around, all add to a more comfortable visit. I consider this ( protection against sun and heat ) much much more important than many other advices.

Athens, Greece
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5. Re: Traveller's diarrhea in greece?

LonghornDeb: Great tip about meat :)

Meat is extremely rarely cooked as "rare" while usually it is prepared as "well done".

This more or less applies in warmer countries, like Spain, Greese, Italy as a general precaution. So, now accustomed to this for many yrs, most Greeks don't eat "rare" even if going to North Europe countries.

SpartanZoe
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6. Re: Traveller's diarrhea in greece?

'Travellers diarrhea' can also manifest as a symptom of dehydration. Arriving in a hot country, getting overheated and dehydrated is not uncommmon.

Gulping down ice cold water will soon get things moving in an unpleasant way.

Cairo
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7. Re: Traveller's diarrhea in greece?

Hi there

Having travelled to Greece for some 16 years I can confirm that hygiene standards in most Greek tavernas is "high", of course there is always the exception as in all countries.

If you are worried about eating salads then it's most proably better to heed your physicians advice but a Greek Salad in Greece tastes totally different than eating it back home!

I have never had a problem with stomach upsets from the food but from my experience does the local house wine can cause mild diaarhea for the first few days until your stomach gets used to it. My husband was ill (within a matter of a couple of hours) on one occasion after eating macaroni with octopus.

Nick: No you are not "strange" to wash your fruit and veg with soap. In Egypt we wash everything with soap including chicken, meat, fish and also add sterilizing tablets or a grain of promanganate to the water. We even wash eggs with soap and water which, apparently. is a big No, No according to international catering standards (should be cleaned with air!). When I first came to Egypt some 27 years ago I thought my mother-in-law was strange but followed her advice and in all those years it is very rare to get a stomach bug. Using soap became a habit even in Greece and when visiting the UK!

Aeromotive: You can always use the Greek tradition of going to the kitchen to see what has been prepared and covertly checkout hygiene standards to reassure yourself.

Regards.

Cairo
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8. Re: Traveller's diarrhea in greece?

Oups, the third paragraph came out a bit fuzzy. I wish they had an "edit" button.

What I wanted to say was:

"I have never had a problem with stomach upsets from the food but from experience what does cause minor upsets is the local house wine for the first few days until your stomach gets used to it. My husband was ill (within a matter of a couple of hours) on one occasion after eating macaroni with octopus. ....."

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Regards.

Montreal, Canada
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9. Re: Traveller's diarrhea in greece?

Thanks for all the input!

I got the impression that tavernas are less clean only because they sound like what we call "junk food" over here. So this is why I was concerned about them :). But I might be wrong, especially considering that I never went to one.

Talking about dairy products, just out of curiousity, should I even worry about unpasteurized products? Same goes for juices? I would think that in a country like Greece, every milk has to be pasteurized?

And thanks Nick about that sun protection reminder. Just so that we don't pack with tons of sunscreen, do greek pharmacies in general carry sunscreens with the usual ingredients and spf 15-45?

Thank you again for your tips!

London, United...
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10. Re: Traveller's diarrhea in greece?

First of all, tavernas are just restaurants without the pretences (i.e. nicely matching tablecloths and napkins, fancy glasses etc.). They serve food made from scratch on the premises and cooked there and then (or earlier in the day in the case of casseroles) and are nothing like junk food outlets.

You don't need to worry about dairy products or fruit juices. Or anything else for that matter. All are perfectly safe.

High SPF creams are available but can be hard to find, esp. towards the end of summer, and when you do find them they are very expensive. If there's one thing you should bring with you to Greece, that's high SPF sunscreen (and make sure it's high UVA protection too - 4 or 5 stars).