Diarrhea in the returned traveler
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Diarrhea in the returned traveler is a common problem that can be caused by a number of different pathogens. A history of the patient’s travel and exposures, the duration of illness, the response to prior treatment, and the clinical syndrome can help to establish a good etiologic differential diagnosis on which further therapy can be based. Many of these patients can be treated empirically with antibiotics, either a fluoroquinolone or azithromycin, without further microbiologic evaluation. Those patients with severe or persistent disease or comorbid illnesses, or those who have failed empiric therapy, should undergo further microbiologic evaluation with directed stool cultures and ova and parasite screening. For those patients with negative evaluations, further empiric therapy may be warranted if syndromes are suggestive of specific agents of infection, such as by Giardia or Cyclospora species. Other patients may require endoscopic evaluation to exclude diagnoses such as tropical sprue or inflammatory bowel disease.
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