Systematic review: the epidemiology and clinical features of travellers’ diarrhoea


  • H. L. DUPONT

    1. The University of Texas School of Public Health, St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine; and Kelsey Research Foundation, Houston, TX, USA
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Dr H. L. DuPont, 1200 Herman Pressler, Suite 733, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Background  Travellers’ diarrhoea is the most common medical complaint among persons venturing into developing areas from industrialized regions.

Aim  To review recent developments dealing with microbiological, clinical, pathophysiological and therapeutic aspects of travellers’ diarrhoea.

Methods  The author’s extensive file plus a review of publications listed in PubMed on January 22, 2009 on the topic of travellers’ diarrhoea were reviewed.

Results  Travellers’ diarrhoea is largely caused by detectable and undetected bacterial enteropathogens, explaining the remarkable effectiveness of antibacterial agents in prophylaxis and therapy of the illness. A number of host genetic polymorphisms have been recently linked with susceptibility to travellers’ diarrhoea. Novel antisecretory agents are being developed for treatment considering their physiological effects in acute diarrhoea. All travellers should be armed with one of three antibacterial drugs, ciprofloxacin, rifaximin or azithromycin, before their trips to use in self therapy should diarrhoea occur during travel. Loperamide may treat milder forms of travellers’ diarrhoea and can be employed with antibacterial drugs.

Conclusions  Diarrhoea will continue to plague international travellers to high-risk regions. More studies of the incidence rate, relative important of the various pathogens by geographical region of the world, host risk factors and optimal therapeutic approach are needed.