Expats more likely to face dysentery problems after moving abroad, health experts warn

by Ray Clancy on May 12, 2010

Dysentery is becoming a more common problem for expatriates moving abroad in certain parts of the world, according to health experts.

Poor sanitation is often the cause and those moving to a new environment can be less immune to some form of stomach infection, says health insurance company MediCare International.

Outbreaks are more likely in crowded areas where poor hygiene practices exist and are particularly likely in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

‘Those moving abroad should be especially cautious when visiting larger cities with poor hygiene and should follow preventative measures. If you are unlucky enough to be struck down by this condition make sure you drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration,’ said David Pryor, Senior Executive Director at MediCare International.

‘If the condition persists, ask for a doctor, as the condition may deteriorate without enough salts and fluid in the body. Travellers are particularly at risk as their immunity is very low if they are visiting a new area,’ he added.

He points out that dysentery is a highly contagious bacterial infection which is spread by poor hygiene, usually by hand to mouth transfer from person to person, or from surfaces which have been contaminated by an infected person.

To reduce the risk of developing dysentery people should wash their hands after using the toilet, after contact with an infected person and regularly throughout the day. Hands should also be washed before handling, cooking, and eating food, handling babies and feeding young or elderly people.

The organisation also advices keeping contact with someone known to have dysentery to a minimum, washing laundry on the hottest setting possible and avoiding sharing items such as towels and face cloths.

Usually dysentery clears after a few days and no treatment is needed. However, it is important to replace any fluids that have been lost through diarrhoea. It also advises avoiding contact with other people until you have been symptom free for at least 48 hours. In severe cases, antibiotic treatment or hospital admission for intravenous therapy is necessary.

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