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Travel Advisory Issued for Turkey Amid Widespread Outbreak of Illness at Popular Tourist Destinations

by Holly

A serious outbreak of illness among travelers returning from Turkey has prompted authorities to issue a fresh travel warning. The source of this ailment, which has affected a substantial number of holidaymakers, remains unidentified. The UK National Health Service (NHS) initiated an inquiry after detecting almost 250 cases of gastrointestinal illness linked to individuals who had recently visited Turkey.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) revealed that clusters of the Salmonella Enteritidis strain have been identified, suggesting a shared origin of infection. The majority of affected travelers had lodged in hotels situated within Turkey’s Antalya region, where they contracted severe infections.

Following the investigation of 241 confirmed cases, it was determined that many of those affected had chosen ‘all-inclusive’ hotels offering buffet-style meals. Despite these efforts, the source of the outbreak has yet to be pinpointed, prompting a cautionary stance for prospective travelers.

As the precise cause of the illness remains elusive, authorities are unable to undertake direct measures, necessitating vigilance on the part of tourists. Among the clustered cases, 56 percent involved male individuals, with an average age of 29.

Detailed travel information for 93 cases was obtained by the UKHSA, revealing that those affected reported staying at various hotels across Turkey. Additionally, many reported consuming a diverse range of foods within their respective hotel resorts, partaking in all-inclusive holiday packages.

Salmonella infections can lead to severe consequences. Symptoms encompass fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and, occasionally, vomiting. While most individuals recover within a week, certain groups like children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems face a heightened risk of severe repercussions.

A spokesperson for the UKHSA emphasized the importance of preventive measures, given the ongoing investigation. Travelers are advised to frequently wash their hands, particularly after using restrooms and before handling food. Optimal food choices include recently prepared, thoroughly cooked, and piping hot dishes, as well as fruits that can be peeled, and pasteurized dairy products. Individuals exhibiting gastrointestinal symptoms are cautioned against preparing food or beverages for others until they are symptom-free.

The UKHSA is collaborating with ABTA, Turkish public health authorities, and international public health partners to facilitate investigations into these outbreaks. The agency is also working alongside the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) to ensure travelers receive appropriate advice.

Salmonella bacteria, often found in the intestines of farm animals, can be transmitted to food products during rearing, processing, and slaughter. Additionally, other foods such as green vegetables, fruit, and shellfish are susceptible to contamination.

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