What causes Travellers' Diarrhoea?
When planning a vacation to a destination outside of Europe, travel health is probably near the bottom of the priority list. However, your well-planned vacation could go haywire unless you take adequate precautions against travellers' diarrhoea. As the name implies, it is a scourge that affects people who travel to most tropical countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Tropical strains of bacteria are the main culprits; they mostly affect visitors from developed areas of the world, like the US and Europe, who have had no previous exposure. Local residents, and frequent travellers who are already exposed to these microbes, are generally immune to them. While 80% of the cases are due to bacterial infection of the upper gastrointestinal tract by E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter or Shigella, some viruses and parasites also can be the cause. They get into our digestive system through contaminated food and water.
Travellers' diarrhoea is caused by a bacterial infection from ingesting contaminated food or water. This is generally due to poor food hygiene and most commonly affects raw or undercooked meat, seafood, and raw fruit and vegetables. Tap water, including ice, and dairy, especially unpasteurised milk, are also common causes of travellers' diarrhoea. For further details on the causes of travellers' diarrhoea and information on how to prevent them, see ‘Prevention’ below.