Travelers' Diarrhea in Indonesia
Travelers' diarrhea can affect tourists anywhere in Indonesia. Risk for this and other intestinal illnesses is is higher for people staying outside of first class hotels and tourist resorts.
Travelers' diarrhea is spread by contaminated food and/or water. Travelers' diarrhea usually occurs within the first week away from home. It affects between 20 and 50 percent of all international travelers, especially people visiting high-risk destinations such as developing nations in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Choosing safe food and water will reduce the risk of developing the disease. An oral cholera vaccine, Dukoral, also gives some protection against travelers' diarrhea caused by enterotoxigenic E coli (ETEC). It is not recommended for most leisure travelers, and it is not available in every country.
Management of Travelers' Diarrhea
Most cases will disappear on their own in one or two days. Replace lost fluids by continuously sipping clear beverages such as water, soft drinks or weak tea. Avoid dairy products, alcohol and coffee.
Occasionally, intravenous re-hydration is required, especially if there has been significant vomiting or extreme diarrhea. Children are very susceptible to dehydration. Seek medical advice and attention early if children are affected.
Seek medical advice if illness lasts longer than 24-36 hours, especially in children. Also consult a medical professional if the patient develops fever, bloody stools or become lightheaded or dizzy.
- Drugs to slow the diarrhea (e.g. loperamide: Immodium®, Diamode® and many generics) Use according to directions and seek medical attention if there is no improvement within 24-36 hours. Do not use these products if you have a high fever or blood in the stool. Do not give to children.
- Antibiotics to treat the cause Many travelers choose to carry antibiotics with them, since these drugs are relatively safe to use and usually shorten the illness.
If you have any further questions about medical concerns in Indonesia, see the Ask the Experts.
We trust this information will assist you in making correct choices regarding your health and welfare. However, it is not intended to be a substitute for personalized advice from your medical adviser.
Our appreciation to the Coordinating Doctors of International SOS, an AEA Company who have contributed this article in response to a health threat faced by expatriates in Indonesia.