Traveler's Diarrhea

What Is It?

Traveler's diarrhea is an infection of the intestines that affects about 50% of people who visit the developing world. It comes from eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water.

Traveler's diarrhea usually is caused by bacteria (most commonly E. coli). It also can be caused by viruses or parasites. The diarrhea is usually not serious and goes away without treatment. However, when diarrhea is very watery and occurs often, dehydration may occur. Dehydration is the biggest danger of traveler's diarrhea.


Most episodes of traveler's diarrhea occur in the first or second week of the trip. Symptoms vary depending on what organism causes the problem, but most people experience diarrhea, as well as fatigue, decreased appetite and abdominal cramps. Nausea and vomiting also may occur. Usually there is no blood in the stool (feces).

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