Travelers' diarrhea: Update on the incidence, etiology and risk in military and similar populations - 1990-2005 versus 2005-2015, does a decade make a difference?

Scott Olson, Alexis Hall, Mark S. Riddle, Chad K. Porter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Background: Travelers' diarrhea remains a prevalent illness impacting individuals visiting developing countries, however most studies have focused on this disease in the context of short term travel. This study aims to determine the regional estimates of travelers' diarrhea incidence, pathogen-specific prevalence, and describe the morbidity associated with diarrheal disease among deployed military personnel and similar long term travelers. Methods: We updated a prior systematic review to include publications between January 1990 and June 2015. Point estimates and confidence intervals of travelers' diarrhea and pathogen prevalence were combined in a random effects model and assessed for heterogeneity. Eighty-two studies were included in the analysis, including 29 new studies since the prior systematic review. Results: Military personnel were evaluated in 69% of studies and non-military long term travelers in 34%, with a median duration of travel of 4.9 months, and travel predominantly to the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean. Sixty-two percent of tested cases were due to bacterial pathogens, with enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC), enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC), and Campylobacter predominating, and significant regional variability. The incidence of TD from studies with longitudinal data was 36.3 cases per 100 person-months, with the highest rates in Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East, with higher estimates from those studies using self-reporting of disease. Morbidity remained significant, with 21% being incapacitated or placed sick in quarters (SIQ) by their illness, 15% requiring intravenous fluids, and 3% requiring hospitalization. Conclusions: In comparison to results from the prior systematic review, there were no significant differences in incidence, pathogen prevalence, or morbidity; however there was a trend toward improved care-seeking by sick individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1
JournalTropical Diseases, Travel Medicine and Vaccines
Issue number1
StatePublished - 15 Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Campylobacter
  • Enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC)
  • Enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC)
  • Long term traveler
  • Travelers' diarrhea


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