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You are here: Home » eGM Resources » Health News of the Day » Diseases & Conditions Facing the Survivors & Relief Efforts in Southeast Asia » Travelers' Diarrhea

Travelers' Diarrhea

Travelers' Diarrhea
Description: Travelers' diarrhea (TD) is a syndrome characterized by a twofold or greater increase in the frequency of unformed bowel movements. Commonly associated symptoms include abdominal cramps, nausea, bloating, urgency, fever, and malaise. Episodes of TD usually begin abruptly, occur during travel or soon after returning home, and are generally self-limited. The most important determinant of risk is the destination of the traveler. Attack rates of 20%–50% are commonly reported. TD is slightly more common in young adults than in older people. The reasons for this difference are unclear, but could include a lack of acquired immunity, more adventurous travel styles, and different eating habits. Attack rates are similar in men and women. The onset of TD is usually within the first week of travel but can occur at any time during the visit and even after returning home.

Occurence: Infectious agents are the primary cause of TD. Travelers from industrialized countries to developing countries frequently experience a rapid, dramatic change in the type of organisms in their gastrointestinal tract. These new organisms often include potential enteric pathogens. Travelers with diarrhea have ingested an inoculum of virulent organisms sufficiently large to overcome individual defense mechanisms, resulting in symptoms.


There are four possible approaches to prevention of TD: 1) instruction regarding food and beverage consumption, 2) immunization, 3) use of nonantimicrobial medications, and 4) use of prophylactic antimicrobial drugs. Data indicate that meticulous attention to food and beverage consumption, as mentioned previously, can decrease the likelihood of developing TD.

source: CDC Diarrhea Health Information
— Caryn Bern, Barbara Herwaldt, Phyllis Kozarsky, Stephen Luby, James Maguire


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