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Antibiotic May Stop Traveler's Diarrhea

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

The Right Strategy?

Rifaximin appears to be an "ideal drug" for preventing bacterial diarrhea "and should be safe even for prolonged use in at-risk international travelers," writes DuPont, who works at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

However, a journal editorial questions the appropriateness of prescribing an antibiotic to millions of travelers every year.

"Rapid and judicious treatment of diarrhea, not antibiotic prophylaxis, is the best recommendation for most travelers," writes Sherwood Gorbach, MD, of Tufts University's medical school.

Upcoming Studies

DuPont and colleagues say they're planning studies in Asia, where bacteria including shigella, salmonella, and campylobacter are common causes of traveler's diarrhea.

They also want to find out if rifaximin helps prevent post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome. The two-week study wasn't long enough to test that, the researchers say.

Avoiding Traveler's Diarrhea

Traveler's diarrhea is mainly caused by infections from fecally contaminated food and water, says the CDC. Choosing foods and beverages carefully while overseas may help avoid those bugs.

The CDC offers these tips on preventing traveler's diarrhea:

  • Avoid eating foods or drinking beverages purchased from street vendors or other establishments where unhygienic conditions are present.
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked meat and seafood.
  • Avoid eating raw fruits (such as oranges, bananas, and avocados) and vegetables unless the traveler peels them.
  • Tap water, ice, unpasteurized milk, and dairy products are associated with increased risk for traveler's diarrhea.
  • Well-cooked and packaged foods -- if handled properly -- are usually safe.
  • Safe beverages include bottled carbonated beverages, hot tea or coffee, beer, wine, and water that's been boiled or appropriately treated with iodine or chlorine.

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