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A real pain in the guts: These are the places you’re likely to get gastro while travelling

July 5, 2017 Health and Wellness No Comments Email Email

Packing up and jetting off to one of your favourite places in the world is the ultimate experience for any travel-lover, but this carefree attitude can come at a cost to your health.

Unfortunately, some of your favourite destinations present the perfect breeding ground for an upset stomach and can leave you counting down your precious vacation days atop a toilet.

Last year Cover-More Travel Insurance recorded 1457 reported cases of gastrocosting travellers almost $2 million in emergency expenses, but thankfully all were reimbursed due to their travel insurance policy.

So how can you avoid such calamities?

Cover-More Travel Insurance has today released the top 10 destinations where travellers have contracted gastroenteritis.

And the most reported cases belong to Australia’s hottest holiday getaway… Indonesia.

In 2016 alone there were over 800 reported cases of gastroenteritis in Indonesia.

In second place, another Aussie favourite destination, was Thailand. Perhaps more surprisingly though, it was the USA who recorded the third most cases of gastroenteritis.

Top 10 places where Cover-More travellers reported contracting gastroenteritis in 2016

Indonesia 875
Thailand 722
USA 325
South West Pacific 159
Singapore 148
Fiji 142
Vietnam 131
New Zealand 123
Philippines 85
Cambodia & Canada 79

 But surprisingly, despite all of the horror stories, the chances of needing to claim your medical expenses due to getting gastroenteritis in Indonesia isn’t actually that high, as you’re more likely to get sick in other countries.

Cover-More’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Stephen Rashford explains why: “While these statistics may make it look like Indonesia is a place that you’ll get really sick, these high claim figures are in part because of the sheer volume of travellers to this country.

“An interesting fact, you’re actually four times more likely to make a claim on a gastroenteritis related illness when travelling in Peru.  Peru is consistently rated as the most likely country to get a gastroenteritis illness, with two per cent of travellers on average every year making a case claim.”

Chances of getting gastro
Country 2013 2014 2015 2016 Average
Peru 2.43% 2.01% 1.87% 1.68% 2.00%
Cambodia 0.85% 0.75% 0.68% 0.97% 0.81%
Thailand 0.57% 0.42% 0.45% 0.63% 0.52%
Spain 0.40% 0.38% 0.40% 0.47% 0.41%
India 0.39% 0.33% 0.30% 0.48% 0.37%
Indonesia 0.34% 0.42% 0.31% 0.37% 0.36%
Vietnam 0.38% 0.30% 0.37% 0.39% 0.36%
Singapore 0.35% 0.35% 0.26% 0.36% 0.33%
Philippines 0.27% 0.40% 0.29% 0.34% 0.32%
Canada 0.31% 0.27% 0.20% 0.31% 0.27%
China 0.22% 0.25% 0.28% 0.27% 0.25%
Malaysia 0.22% 0.20% 0.18% 0.20% 0.20%
United States of America 0.18% 0.17% 0.17% 0.15% 0.17%
France 0.18% 0.17% 0.14% 0.15% 0.16%
Fiji 0.14% 0.16% 0.13% 0.18% 0.15%
Italy 0.15% 0.12% 0.10% 0.15% 0.13%
New Zealand 0.10% 0.10% 0.08% 0.08% 0.09%
South West Pacific Cruise 0.13% 0.03% 0.08% 0.12% 0.09%
United Kingdom 0.08% 0.07% 0.09% 0.08% 0.08%

And it’s the cost of contracting the stomach bug is the real pain in the guts.

Out of the top ten most expensive gastroenteritis claims across the world, those contracted in the United States made up almost half.

We’re talking claims ranging from $60,000 to in excess of $100,000.

The most expensive claim ever for gastroenteritis on Cover-More’s books was in September 2015 when a customer on holiday in the USA thanked their lucky stars that they didn’t have to fork out a whopping $105,886.21 for their tummy bug.

Given the cost for health care in the United States, it’s no wonder that of the Top 10 most expensive gastro claims ever made with Cover-More, four of those were from the USA.

Top 10 most expensive gastro related claims

Country Registered Claim Cost
UNITED STATES 2015 $105886.21
CHINA 2016 $99,985.26
INDONESIA 2015 $97,589.22
UNITED STATES 2014 $76,757.24
FIJI 2013 $75,855.47
INDONESIA 2014 $73,744.76
UNITED STATES 2013 $72,864.20
UNITED STATES 2015 $72,415.29
OTHER 2015 $67,546.54
SINGAPORE 2016 $60,861.46

Top five ways to prevent gastro when you’re overseas

As for avoiding the debilitating illness altogether, Cover-More’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Stephen Rashford has five simple steps travellers can follow to help them steer clear of contracting gastro:

  1. After touching money, thoroughly wash your hands

Touching paper notes and coins are a particularly easy way to transmit and contract nasty bugs, so make sure you thoroughly wash your hands after exchanging money.

  1. Don’t drink the tap water in non-first world countries

Aside from the obvious of always drinking bottled water, it’s important not to use the tap when brushing your teeth, and keep your mouth closed in the shower. Even in countries where the tap water is fine, your digestive system sometimes isn’t used to the bacteria that some water systems across the world carry.

  1. Check the bottle cap of your water when purchasing it

Some unscrupulous sellers will fill old plastic bottles with tap water and sell them as if new o be careful to check that the cap of your water is secured tightly when purchasing. If in doubt, discard it!

  1. Ask for your drink without ice & avoid salads that might have been washed in water

This is a common mistake made by travellers when avoiding drinking water, they forget that contaminated water is all around us – in drinks with ice and fruit and vegetables that are served at restaurants if they’ve been rinsed with water. Ask for ice either from bottled water or avoid it altogether and if you can, only purchase meals that are cooked.

  1. Take hand sanitiser and use it!

Having hand sanitiser drastically reduces the risk of contamination, so that no matter what you touch, it doesn’t somehow end up in your mouth. And don’t rub your eyes with dirty hands, you can still get sick that way.

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