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Gastro on the Nile Cruise

April 12th, 2012

The incidence of Travellers Diarrhoea in persons cruising down the Nile approaches 90%, so in the past Travel Medicine doctors have sometimes prescribed a daily dose of a special antibiotic while on the 3-6 day cruise for the prevention of this very debilitating condition.

However, recent research in Canada has been released that suggests persons taking 5 days or more of this family of drugs have experienced a side effect called Retinal Detachment – where the lining of the eye ( the retina ) detaches from the back of the eye. This can cause problems with vision. The dose usually causing this problem is higher than the dose used on the Nile cruise. Also this retinal problem is a very rare side effect – about one in every 2,500 persons using the drug in this way. This side effect has never been reported in travellers, however, it is not worth risking this problem.

There is evidence that taking a single dose of this family of drugs does NOT cause a problem. Travellers may sometimes be recommended to use this family of drugs as a single dose to treat travellers diarrhoea AFTER it occurs. We still recommend a single dose of these drugs as the safest most effective first step treatment for travellers diarrhoea.

A severe bout of travellers diarrhoea can lead to persistent and sometimes debilitating gut problems in 3% of affected travellers, so it is better to treat the travellers diarrhoea early and effectively. As always these drugs are prescription based, and may not be suitable for all persons, so it is essential that all travellers seek up to date advice from their Travel Doctor.

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