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Diarrhoea

What is travellers' diarrhoea?

Travellers commonly suffer attacks of diarrhoea particularly during the first week or two of a stay in a foreign environment. Travellers' diarrhoea is the most common health problem encountered by travellers and may affect up to 80% of travellers to high-risk destinations.

Even a brief episode of severe diarrhoea may spoil a holiday or ruin a business trip.

The risk of traveller's diarrhea is higher in countries with low standards of hygiene and sanitation and in such countries travellers should take precautions with all food and drink, including that served in good-quality hotels and restaurants

Remember though that poor food and water hygiene may be present in any country!

What causes travellers' diarrhoea?

The commonest causes are bacteria and viruses in contaminated food and water; however some parasitic and fungal infections may also cause travellers' diarrhoea.

Illness is also caused by certain biological toxins found in seafood (some shellfish, scombroid fish and puffer fish). The toxins involved in these poisonings come from microorganisms consumed by or otherwise contaminating the fish. Sporadic misuse of chemicals also occurs, such as the use of textile dyes in foodstuffs, which may give an unusually bright colour to the contaminated food.

What are the common symptoms?

Symptoms are usually those of abdominal cramps, vomiting and fever followed by diarrhoea lasting for about 2-3 days. In warm climates dehydration can make the experience worse

How can I prevent travellers' diarrhoea?

What should I do if I contract travellers' diarrhoea ?

Reference: International Travel and Health 2005, The World Health Organisation - WHO Press: Geneva

Masta Limited 2005

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