Observational Study of Travelers' Diarrhea


  • Brigitte Meuris

    Corresponding author
    1. Brigitte Meuris, MD: Medical Officer, Flying Staff, SABENA. Paper presented at the Third Conference on International Travel Medicine, Paris, France, 1993.
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  • This study was financially supported by the Janssen Research Foundation.

Brigitte Meuris, MD, SABENA, National Airport- 1/158, 1930 Zaventem, Belgium


Background: European air travelers returning from Algeria, Egypt, Mexico, Morocco, and Tunisia were interviewed about their experience of travelers' diseases upon arrival in Brussels. Diarrhea was mentioned by 37% of the adults and 27% of the children. These subjects were questioned about the types of measures taken, type and duration of drug treatment (if any), and about duration of diarrhea and side effects experienced.

Methods: Final analysis was performed based on 2160 interviews. The largest proportion of diarrhea was reported in the age group 15–24 years (46%).

Results: The majority of the 2160 subjects had opted for drug treatment (81%): 927 subjects for loperamide alone, 235 for loperamide in combination with nifuroxazide, and 178 for nifuroxazide alone. Other drugs had been used less frequently. The median time to recovery was 2.4 days with loperamide compared to 3.2 days with nifuroxazide and to 3.4 days for the no-treatment group.

Conclusions: A stratification of the results by severity of the diarrhea suggests a rank of antidiarrheal potency as follows: loperamide > nifuroxazide > no-drug treatment. The side effect with the highest incidence was constipation (2.4% with loperamide).