- Avoid contaminated water
- Travelers to developing countries and hikers in the wilderness should consider all water sources contaminated. For travel to high-risk areas (Africa, Latin America, southern Asia), where medical care may not be readily available, talk to your doctor about taking prescription medication with you. Over 80% of diarrhea in travelers is caused by bacteria and is usually treated with a quinolone antibiotic. Diarrhea that does not go away with a quinolone antibiotic may be caused by a parasite such as Giardia and can be treated with metronidazole. Any diarrheal illness that does not include fever or bloody diarrhea can be relieved with Imodium or Pepto-Bismol as directed, as long as the antibiotic is also taken.
- All water must be boiled, filtered, or treated with halogenated tablets or solutions (chlorine-type treatment to purify).
- Avoid foods washed in contaminated water or that cannot be cooked or peeled. Travelers to foreign countries should be especially careful to avoid drinking water in foreign countries (including ice cubes in drinks). Drink bottled water. Avoid fresh fruits and vegetables that may have been washed in contaminated water. Eat only items that can be peeled.
- In the United States, many reported cases of giardia occur in the summer months. This may be due to the use of community swimming areas by young diaper-aged children (such as lakes, pools, and water parks.)
- Avoid risky sexual behaviors.
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after using the bathroom and before eating.
- Wash hands after changing a baby's diaper. If you are a daycare worker, it is especially important to wash after changing each child.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/15/2014
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