Almost 250 Salmonella infections in the United Kingdom since the start of 2023 have been linked to travel to Turkey.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has shared steps to reduce the risk of common infections when going abroad in summer.

The agency has detected a number of clusters of gastrointestinal illness in people returning from Turkey, the majority of whom had been to the Antalya region. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) has revealed some clusters are related, which indicates a likely common source of infection. 

Between mid-January and July 19, there have been 241 confirmed cases of Salmonella Enteritidis, the majority with specimen collection dates from April onward.

Fifty-six percent of cases are male and the median age is 29 years old. Of the 93 cases for which travel information is available, people reported staying in different hotels in Turkey and most ate a variety of foods at their hotel resort as part of an all-inclusive holiday package.

UKHSA issued a warning ahead of the school summer holidays as the source of illness has not been identified. UKHSA, Turkish health authorities and other international public health agencies are involved in ongoing investigations.

General travel advice
More than 130 holidaymakers, including 50 children, who fell ill in Turkey asked law firm Irwin Mitchell for help earlier this year.

“We’ve now been contacted by more than 130 people who have suffered serious gastric illness while holidaying at the Rixos Sungate in Turkey, which is very worrying. What’s deeply concerning is that many of those affected are children and there are several cases of Salmonella which is particularly dangerous for the most vulnerable such as children and the elderly,” said Jatinder Paul, international serious injury lawyer.

Regardless of destination, UKHSA advised people to watch what they eat and drink while travelling to avoid potentially serious foodborne illnesses, spread by eating and drinking contaminated food or water.

Steps to reduce the risk of infection include washing hands thoroughly especially after using the toilet and before preparing or eating food. Ensure foods are cooked or reheated thoroughly and perishable foods are kept cool in the fridge or freezer.

Other tips mentioned were only eating fruit that has been peeled by themselves if possible and consuming pasteurized dairy products such as yogurts, milk, and cheese.

Gastrointestinal illness can be more severe for pregnant women, adults aged 65 and over, children aged 5 or under, people with underlying health conditions and those with weakened immune systems.

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