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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Traveler's Diarrhea
      Category : Health Centers > Digestive System

Traveler's Diarrhea

Alternate Names : E. Coli Diarrhea

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Traveler's diarrhea refers to diarrheal disease caused by toxins produced by a number of different strains of Escherichia coli and other bacteria.

What is going on in the body?

Traveler's diarrhea begins when a person swallows E. coli or other bacteria. This happens through close contact with feces from an infected person or animal. It can also come from ingesting food or water that has been contaminated with the bacteria. There have been numerous outbreaks of E. coli illness linked to unpasteurized contaminated cow's milk or undercooked hamburger meat. The disease can also pass from person to person, especially between children still in diapers.

What are the causes and risks of the disease?

Traveler's diarrhea is caused by certain bacteria, such as E. coli. Travelers generally come into contact with these bacteria by ingesting contaminated food or water. Travelers to the following countries are at particular risk:

  • Central America, including the islands of the West Indies
  • the developing countries of Africa
  • the Middle East
  • Any raw food can be a source of these bacteria. However, the following foods and beverages pose the highest risk:

  • certain fish, particularly tropical fish
  • raw meat
  • salads
  • shellfish
  • uncooked vegetables and fruit
  • unpasteurized fruit juice
  • unpasteurized milk and milk products
  • untreated water
  • Traveler's diarrhea is more common in younger people but can occur at any age. People with immunodeficiency disorders, such as HIV, are at higher risk.


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    Traveler's Diarrhea: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Danielle Zerr, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 08/30/01

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