Eat the Salad?

Jul 19th, 2005, 04:49 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 7
*** I guess I opened up quite a topic for discussion so I thought I would add our experience to the list! We had an incredible time in Cancun and the surrounding areas and we never got sick! We weren't overly cautious but I think we were wise...we had wonderful fresh salads and fruit at places that were reccomended through this sight and others! WE brushed our teeth and drank the tap water in our hotel...we also checked the ice to make sure it was filtered in our mixed can tell this by the hole through the middle! I also agree millions of people would not frequent the popular bars and drink mixed drinks if everyone is getting sick! This was my second trip to Cancun and I can't wait to go back. The Friendliness and courteousness of the people who work in the tourism areas is incredible!
dinsa is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 01:21 PM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 74
"When you get to the part about calling the Doctor, I'll be over here..."

I'm a doc, traveled throughout mexico including "tourist" areas like Cancun with near-indistrial nation water and sanitation AND rural areas where "agua potable" means "nobody has actually DIED of Cholera so far this month."

I am also medical director for a chapter of an organization that sends literally hundreds of healthy US high school and college students into Latin America every summer to work on public health projects.

"Turista" is a form of diarrhea due to the toxic effects of certain strains of e-coli. e-coli bacteria are literally everywhere (and their carcases make up a large % of the bulk of a normal stool - ironically, NO e-coli (such as after a blast of a broad spectrum antibiotic) = diarrhea. The biggest problem is getting ahold of certain strains of e-coli which produce an unfamiliar toxin (no immunity) or a particularly powerful toxin. Your chances of getting a "dose" go up with the chances that a given drink of water, uncooked leaf of lettuce, or undercooked hamburger (soiled with some cow poop in the packing plant) has 1) been contaminated and 2) hasn't been decontaminated - sterilized or disinfected.

EVERY city water supply has a certain number of e-coli in it (there's a standard of so many germs per milliliter). Rickety water systems, unchlorinated water systems, and water systems that get dosed with GROUND WATER which contains poop have more bugs/ml and hence a much greater chance of etting a "dose" - not just of e-coli, but hepatitis virus, parasites, amoebae, etc.

By the way, folks from Kansas get diarrhea in Colorado (unfamiliar e-coli). If Mexicanos get it here we call it Davy Crockett's Revenge. In both cases folks got a dose of bugs they just weren't prepared to handle, probably 'cause water systems in the mountains aren't quite up to "code" now and then.

If it ain't cooked, peeled on the spot, bottled and sealed, or boiled at a rolling boil, you are taking a chance.

"Fancy" restaurants in developed areas (i.e. Cancun) or other restaurants that dip their veggies in an antiseptic - probably OK but a certain number of customers WILL get the cramps runs, most likely. Out in the Campo - likely to ruin your day. (Cramps & fever, mucus or blood with the runs, you may have gotten a much badder type of bug).

PS - 15% or so of our healthy youg volunteers have a day or more "down" with Moctezuma, despite following all the "rules".

Just decide how badly you want to risk being in the group that has a problem. Remember - 5 out of 6 people who play Russian Roulette only once live to tell the tale.
jw2 is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 01:31 PM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 74
Oh - PS - almost forgot why I decided to respond in the first place: Cancun and Cozumel and Isla just had a major "groundwater" experience - probably an increased risk of more than usual contamination in water systems. I'll be in the northern Yucatan next month, and will probably skip the raw stuff even in places where I'd usually not be concerned, and I sure as heck won't sing in the shower....
jw2 is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 04:13 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 92,318
Thank you so much for posting jw2. I find the posts that say if you stick to fancy tourist restaurants, only eat at your all-inclusive resort, or hey I'm in Cancun so it is no problem... frustrating at best. I can only guess they have never been laid up in bed for a couple days with a long list of gruesome symptoms or they would not be so cavalier about the advise they are giving telling first time visitors to ignore the normal precautions.

suze is online now  
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