9 Tips to Prevent Travelers' Diarrhea

Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Medical Editor: Charles P. Davis, MD, PhD

Travelers' diarrhea strikes up to half of all international travelers. It is far and away the most common travel-related illness, affecting about 10 million people per year worldwide. Infectious agents, particularly bacteria from water contaminated with feces, cause travelers' diarrhea. The most commonly identified bacteria associated with travelers' diarrhea are what are called ETEC, or enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli.

The destination is the most important risk factor for the development of travelers' diarrhea. Developing countries all over the world represent the highest risk, and the highest-risk destinations are the developing countries of Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Certain groups of people are also more likely to develop travelers' diarrhea. At-risk groups include:

  • immunosuppressed persons,
  • those with diabetes, and
  • persons with inflammatory bowel diseases.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/9/2014