Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Antibiotic May Stop Traveler's Diarrhea

Rifaximin Approved to Treat Traveler's Diarrhea Caused by E. coli Bacteria
WebMD Health News

May 16, 2005 -- An antibiotic called rifaximin may help prevent traveler's diarrhearifaximin may help prevent traveler's diarrhea caused by E. coli bacteria, according to a new study.

That may be particularly helpful in Mexico, where E. coli accounts for most cases of traveler's diarrhea, say the researchers in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

However, rifaximin hasn't been proven to treat traveler's diarrhea that is not caused by E. coli, and it didn't completely prevent the problem, in the study by Herbert DuPont, MD, and colleagues.

Traveler's diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travelers, says the CDC. Diarrhea strikes 20%-50% of international travelers (an estimated 10 million people) every year.

Diarrhea Prevention Test

The FDA approved rifaximin last summer to treat traveler's diarrhea caused by E. coli. DuPont's team tested the antibiotic on American students who were new in Mexico and had not yet developed traveler's diarrhea.

DuPont's study included 210 healthy adults who were taking summer classes and living with local families in Guadalajara, Mexico. The students got instruction on avoiding traveler's diarrhea, including safe food selection. They ate most of their meals in local homes with local families; however, the researchers expected similar rates of diarrhea as if their meals were consumed in public restaurants.

They also took rifaximin or a placebo during their first two weeks in Mexico; they didn't know which pills they had received.

Participants were followed for three weeks to see if diarrhea developed and for two more weeks to track side effects. While the students took their treatment, changes in the normal bacteria of the gut were tracked. Antibiotic treatment changes the normal gut environment and can lead to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Fewer Diarrhea Cases With Rifaximin

The rifaximin group had fewer cases of diarrhea during their first two weeks in Mexico. Of the students taking rifaximin, nearly 15% developed diarrhea compared with more than half of the students that took the placebo.

Rifaximin provided 72% protection against traveler's diarrhea. All rifaximin doses fared better than the placebo, the study shows.

The rifaximin group also got protection from milder diarrhea and moderate-to-severe intestinal symptoms such as pain, cramps, and excessive gas. Minimal effects were seen on intestinal flora.

Rifaximin and the placebo had comparable rates of side effects (such as headache and sore throat), write researchers.

Today on WebMD

man holding his stomach
Get the facts on common problems.
blueberries in a palm
Best and worst foods.
woman shopping
Learn what foods to avoid.
fresh and dried plums
Will it help constipation?
top foods for probiotics
couple eating at cafe
sick child
Woman blowing bubble gum

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Woman with crohns in pain
Woman with stomach pain
diet for diverticulitis
what causes diarrhea