Travelers urged to avoid some food in Europe

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Three people here in the US have gotten sick, likely from the same strain of E. coli that's killed 16 people in Europe.  The CDC says all three patients recently spent time in Germany.  Here at home, the outbreak is raising new concerns for people packing their bags for Europe.

Health authorities say there's no reason for Americans to panic because this strain of E. coli bacteria is not in our food supply, and the sickness is rarely passed person to person. But, if you are going to travel internationally, this situation should at least be on your radar.

You're likely familiar with the warning to avoid water that's not in a sealed bottle and ice in places like Mexico, South America and Africa, but a new danger is throwing some travelers for a loop.  Beware of common salad fixings in Europe.

The CDC is monitoring a rare variation of E. coli that's sickened more than 15,000 people.  Hundreds have suffered kidney failure and neurological problems.  Right now, no specific food has been confirmed as the source of the infections, but health officials are warning against certain fruits and vegetables, particularly if your travels take you to the northern states of Germany.

AAA Travel Agent Stephanie Goff says, "They're recommending that you avoid leafy vegetables, cucumber, tomato, and of course wash your hands before and after your meal."

Thoroughly cooked veggies and fruit you can peel yourself can be a safer bet.  To try and help curb this spread of ecoli and protect passengers, American Airlines won't be serving up anymore salads for now on its flights out of Europe.  The airline is replacing them with other options in response to concerns.  Another way to stay safe: consider buying travelers insurance.

Goff says, "Your US health insurance normally does not cover you once you leave and travel to another country; normally the travel insurances that you can buy includes some type of medical coverage for travel abroad too."

If you do any internet research about this subject, you will likely find are a number of drugs on the market that claim to prevent E. coli, but be sure to do your research and check with a doctor before taking any medications.

MORE: CDC website

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