What is Traveller’s Diarrhea?
Traveller’s diarrhea (TD) is a broad term for diarrhea that can result from a variety of intestinal pathogens including bacteria, viruses and parasites. It can occur in 30-70% of travellers, depending on destination and season of travel. Bacteria are the most common cause of TD, accounting for 80-90% of TD.
Many of the pathogens that cause TD are contracted through the fecal-oral route. Bacterial and viral TD causes sudden onset of symptoms ranging from mild cramps and loose stools to severe abdominal pain, fever, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea.
What is Cholera?
Cholera is an infectious bacterial disease of the small intestine that causes severe watery diarrhea. If left untreated it can lead to dehydration and in severe casescan lead to death. It is contracted by the fecal oral route – fecally contaminated food and water. Cholera is more common in countries with inadequate water treatment, poor hygiene and sanitation. Risk to travellers is very low for most healthy travellers. The risk is highest in aid and refuge workers. Cholera can be prevented by using careful food and water precautions and taking the Dukoral vaccine.
How can I prevent Traveller’s Diarrhea?
The risk of TD can never be completely eliminated due to poor hygiene practices in local restaurants when travelling. However, there are several behaviours that can help reduce the risk of TD:
- Wash hands or use hand sanitizer before eating and drinking
- Avoid tap water, ice, raw fruits and vegetables, food from street vendors and unpasteurized dairy products
- Consider taking the Dukoral vaccine to prevent TD caused by enterotoxigenic coli(ETEC)
Who should receive the Dukoral vaccine?
The Dukoral vaccine is recommended for anyone 2 years of age and older desiring maximum pre-travel preparation.
Dukoral vaccine schedule:
- Two doses are needed when taking Dukoral for the first time:
- The first dose should be taken no later than 2 weeks before departure
- The second dose should be taken at least 1 week after the 1st dose and at least 1 week before departure
- If Dukoral has been taken in the last 3 months to 5 years only a single booster dose is needed:
- The booster dose should be taken at least 1 week prior to departure
How can I treat Traveller’s Diarrhea?
- Stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids combined with oral rehydration salts
- Take loperamide (Immodium) to reduce the frequency of bowel movements when access to a toilet is limited
- TD will usually resolve on its own within a few days. Take an antibiotic should the TD last >3 days, or if it is very severe (i.e. blood is seen in the stool).
Call us at 604-251-1975 to arrange an appointment or to receive further information about traveller’s diarrhea or Dukoral.
Visit our Kitsilano clinic for a pre-travel consultation and vaccinations to protect your health.
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