travellers' diarrhoea - MASTA Travel Health | For All Your Vaccination advice

Travellers' diarrhoea

Travellers’ diarrhoea (TD) is a common travel related illness that can affect between 20-60% of people who visit less-developed countries. Most cases of TD settle in a few days but occasionally the symptoms may last for a month or longer.
  • Symptoms Watery or loose diarrhoea, stomach cramps, nausea, fever.
  • How do you catch travellers' diarrhoea? TD can be caused by many different organisms through eating or drinking contaminated food or water or through poor hand hygiene.
  • Incubation period From a few hours to a few days.
  • Diagnosis Laboratory tests are not always needed, as TD usually settles in a few days. If needed, blood tests


TD is very difficult to avoid. Wash hands before preparing or eating food. When washing facilities are not available an alcohol hand gel can be helpful. Drink only safe water and avoid eating certain foods. A travel health nurse will be able to provide more information


Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Continue to eat if you feel hungry. Rehydration sachets can be bought over the counter in the UK and may help the symptoms to settle more quickly.

  • Babies and young children, the elderly, and those with special health needs can be very ill with TD.
  • The World Health Organisation states that there are nearly 1.7 billion cases of childhood diarrhoeal disease every year.
  • You should see a doctor if diarrhoea lasts for 4 days or more, contains blood, or if the body temperature is high (over 38°c).
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