What is Traveller’s Diarrhea?
“The runs” can put a big dent in your travel plans. An abrupt onset of uncomfortable diarrhea is the most common health concern that travellers encounter. Often traveller’s diarrhea (TD) resolves itself without treatment but sometimes it can last 1 week or more than 1 month. TD is usually caused by bacteria, but occasionally a virus or parasite is the culprit.
There is a vaccine that reduces risk of diarrhea, caused by one bacteria called enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC), but it is not enough to stop all cases of traveller’s diarrhea. Other possible causes are Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, Giardia, Noroviruses and other E.coli. Rehydration is particularly important for children and those with health problems.
Having stand-by antibiotic for treatment of TD is an important consideration that will be discussed during your pre-travel consultation.
Food & Water Precautions
- Boil it, cook it, peel it or forget it
- Use purified water for brushing your teeth as well as drinking
- Safe water to drink is boiled, purified, or bottled
- Reliable purification systems include both a filter and a chemical, such as chlorine dioxide, for killing microbes and parasites
- Drink carbonated drinks, hot tea or coffee
- Avoid ice in your drinks
- Be cautious of unpasteurized dairy, ice cream, street vendors, buffet food, raw vegetables such as salads, large reef fish (grouper, snapper, barracuda) even if cooked
Vaccine name: Dukoral®
Minimum age: 2 years
Primary series: 2 doses (1 to 6 weeks apart)
Booster: 1 dose within 5 years of primary series
Duration: 3 months
For those individuals for whom it is suggested, the vaccine is taken orally and must be kept in the fridge at home.