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Baillieres Clin Gastroenterol. 1993 Jun;7(2):365-85.

Travellers' diarrhoea.

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Center for Infectious Diseases, University of Texas Medical School, Houston 77030.


Although TD is usually a mild and self-limited illness, 30-50% of travellers from industrialized to less developed countries are affected. Enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) remain the most frequent cause, being identified in 40-70% of cases. TD frequently occurs within the first 2 weeks of arrival in the foreign country. The clinical manifestation is variable, but watery diarrhoea is the most common clinical presentation. Chronic diarrhoea or remitting symptoms after empirical therapy in the returning traveller are indications for a stool culture and a careful search for stool parasites. Since the major precaution against TD is to avoid exposure to the infectious agents, careful selection of food and beverage is crucial. Bismuth subsalicylate has been proven to be safe and effective in the treatment and prophylaxis of TD. The tablet form has removed the inconvenience of previously required luggage space. Doxycycline, trimethoprim/sulphamethoxazole, trimethoprim and the quinolones have been shown to be effective for prevention of diarrhoea. However, side-effects, superinfection, development of antibiotic resistance and easy-to-treat illness may limit the use of these antimicrobial agents to those travellers with concomitant serious medical conditions that would be adversely affected by diarrhoea, or travellers with unaffordable temporary incapacity. A new oral-killed whole-cell and B-subunit cholera toxin vaccine was demonstrated to induce protection against severe ETEC-associated diarrhoea. This is a promising field under investigation. Finally, fluid replacement is the most important aspect of treatment. Patients with moderate to severe TD can be treated with one of the above-mentioned antimicrobial agents for 3-5 days. Selection of the antimicrobial agent is based on the pattern of resistance and the enteric organism prevalent in the geographical area. While TMP-SMX remains active against the strains prevalent in Mexico during summertime, the quinolones represent the choice for the therapy of diarrhoea acquired in the high-risk areas of South America, Africa and Asia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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