Update in traveler's diarrhea

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TD has not proved as preventable as hoped, despite knowing that it is transmitted mainly through food. Travelers have little ability to select restaurants based on the kitchen hygiene. The rates of TD in travelers to developing countries have not changed in the past 50 years, either because the dietary precautions they are taught are not effective or they cannot be adhered to in the course of a pleasurable vacation. Nonantibiotic prophylaxis with bismuth subsalicylate has the potential to prevent 40%to 60% of TD episodes in short-term travelers, and is probably underused. Antibiotic prophylaxis can prevent up to 90% of infections, but is not routinely recommended. Empiric treatment of TD has been the best approach to dealing with this problem, but its usefulness is being undermined by growing antibiotic resistance in many parts of the world. Fluoroquinolones are still the most useful agents where Campylobacter is not a predominant pathogen. Rifaximin may prove to be a useful addition to the options for treatment and prophylaxis. If used for treatment, it may require a backup antibiotic in areas where Campylobacter and Shigella are prominent pathogens.

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  • David R. Shlim

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