Up to 50% of travelers to Asia, Africa, Central America and the Middle East report 1 or more bouts of “travelers’ diarrhea” (TD). 3-4 watery stools in a matter of hours, sometimes accompanied by nausea, vomiting and bloating characterize this annoying illness. Mishandled food contaminated with fecal matter ingested by the traveler takes only a few hours to cause the rapid onset of diarrhea. Travelers with underlying stomach and intestinal problems may want to get advice from their personal physician as to self-treatment of diarrhea. Unfortunately, there is NO vaccine for diarrhea.
Contaminated, raw or under cooked food, raw seafood, salad washed with contaminated water, ice cubes and drinking water contribute to this illness. If you think your destination is an “at risk” place, where there is a possibility that food and drink would not be safe, be prepared. Eat only thoroughly cooked foods, avoid salads and eat cooked veggies, Don’t save leftovers, don’t eat food exposed to outdoor heat or flies, drink and brush teeth ONLY with sealed bottled water. Consume only pasteurized dairy products.
“Probiotics” and intestinal health has been all over the media. Unofficial, individual reports are positive for limited prevention of diarrhea! Your trip preparation may include bringing over the counter probiotics and a few lightweight food items that will help with fluid replacement following diarrhea. Oatmeal packets, soup packets, dry Pedialyte® or CeraLyte®that you can add boiled or bottled water to. Salty crackers are good to have handy. If you have a fever or bloody diarrhea, seek medical help immediately. The WHO states hand washing alone can lower the incidence of TD by as much as 30%.
Boil it, cook it, peel it OR forget it!