IAMAT |International Association of Medical Assistance to Travellers| IAMAT |International Association of Medical Assistance to Travellers|

Country Health Advice Ghana

General Health Risks: Traveller's Diarrhea

Description

The term Traveller's Diarrhea is used to describe gastrointestinal infections affecting travellers caused by ingesting bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. These microorganisms are found worldwide and are typically transmitted from person to person via the fecal-oral route – an infected person who does not practice proper hand or body hygiene passes on the infection to another person when handling food and water. Traveller's Diarrhea is one of the most common illness among travellers.

Risk

Traveller’s Diarrhea can happen when:

  • Eating raw, under cooked, unwashed, or improperly handled meat, poultry products, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, shellfish, and seafood.
  • Drinking contaminated water or beverages.
  • Inadvertently ingesting fecal matter, protozoa eggs, or viruses by touching the mouth with dirty or improperly washed hands.
  • Eating in restaurants, from buffets, or from street vendors where food handling and hygienic practices are not followed properly.
Prevention

The golden rule to prevent gastrointestinal infections is: Boil it, Cook it, Peel it, or Forget it! However, it’s not just about what you eat, it’s also important to consider where you eat. It’s not always easy to know if a restaurant or food vendor follows proper food handling and hygienic practices (separating raw from cooked ingredients, properly cleaning cutting boards, utensils, sink to wash hands, refrigeration). Be cautious of food that has been stored uncovered, has been improperly refrigerated, or has been standing out for a long time such as buffets.

Consult your doctor for the best diarrhea treatment options tailored to your needs. Travellers who have pre-existing health conditions and are more susceptible to gastrointestinal infections may consider taking preventive medication.

For more information on food and water safety download the following Tipsheets from our eLibrary:
How to prevent Traveller's Diarrhea

How to prevent illness by washing your hands

Health risk description last reviewed: September 19, 2016
Country information last updated: September 19, 2016


Sources

  • Velarde JJ, Levine MM, Nataro JP,Escherichia coli Diarrhea. In: McGill, A; Ryan, E; Hill, D; Solomon, T, eds. Hunter's Tropical Medicine and Emerging Infectious Diseases. 9th ed. New York: Saunders Elsevier; 2013: 442-447.
  • Wolfe MS. Traveler’s Diarrhea. In: Jong, E; Stevens, D, eds. Netter’s Infectious Diseases. New York: Saunders Elsevier; 2012: 390-393.
  • Virk A. Amebiasis, Giardiasis, and Other Intestinal Protozoan Infections. In: Jong, E; Sanford, C. eds. The Travel and Tropical Medicine Manual, 4th ed. Waltham, Elsevier; 2008: 448-466. 
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Yellow Book, Traveler’s Diarrhea
  • Committee to Advice on Tropical Medicine and Travel, PHAC: Statement on Travellers' Diarrhea


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