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Travellers' diarrhea, sometimes called by more colourful names such as "turista" and "Montezuma's revenge", is an illness that most commonly affects people from industrialized nations who travel to areas with poor standards of hygiene and poor food handling practices. It is spread by ingesting contaminated food or water and exceptionally through direct person-to-person contact. The risk of developing the illness depends on several factors including the destination, the length of the trip and the type of accommodations, the season and the travellers themselves. Most episodes are not severe and resolve on their own within 1 to 5 days.
Travellers' diarrhea is characterized by frequent, loose and watery bowel movements (3 or more unformed stools in a 24-hour period) with at least one of the following symptoms:
The best defence against travellers' diarrhea is to use common sense and to practice good hygiene measures. Here is a list of suggestions that may help you keep travellers' diarrhea at bay:
If you develop travellers' diarrhea in spite of all these precautions, the following measures may help:
If you were prescribed antibiotics prior to your departure, you can take them rather than consulting a doctor in another country. You may, however, need to see a doctor if:
For more information or for support:
Public Health Agency of Canada
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