Traveller’s diarrhea prevention while travelling
So prior to my trip last summer, I made sure I went to the doctor…got my annual check up and then I asked him if I needed to get any shots prior to heading out to Asia and in particular South East Asia. I asked about the Malaria thing but even with my research online, it really wasn’t necessary unless you were doing some crazy trekking. I knew Jia and I would only be trekking for one day so the doctor confirmed that it was pretty overkill. Not worth the side effects. What my doctor did recommend was this thing called Dukoral. I had no idea what the heck it was for…
What is Dukoral?
So you guys might be wondering the same thing so I figured i’d explain this piece first. What exactly is Dukoral?
In a nutshell, it’s simply a vaccine you take prior to your travels to help prevent traveller’s diarrhea and cholera while you’re travelling. Traveller’s diarrhea is typically caused by E. Coli.
These are the countries that are known to have cholera cases in the past 10 years.
Countries considered high risk by Dukoral.
From C.Health Canoe
This vaccine works by introducing very small amounts of dead cholera bacteria and nontoxic components of cholera toxin into the body. This allows the body to make antibodies against the bacteria and toxin so that if the bacteria does get into the body and produce the toxin, they are immediately attacked by the body’s own defense system. The cholera toxin is very similar to the toxin produced by ETEC, the bacteria that causes most cases of traveller’s diarrhea. Therefore, the body’s defenses against cholera toxin will also work against the ETEC toxin. It generally takes one week after finishing the first course of immunization for the body’s defenses to develop protection against the bacteria.
This is obviously only available if your doctor writes a prescription for you and you have to consider whether your insurance will cover something like this. Luckily the company I worked with at the time covered 100% of this.
The way it works is you have to take this 2 weeks prior to the start of your travels and is good for 3 months of protection. What I liked about taking Dukoral was that it was extremely easy and was something you could do yourself. A full immunization requires 2 doses taken 1 week apart, with the last dose taken at least 1 week before travel. It comes with a sachet of some powder that looked like Kool-Aid except white and you just mixed it into water. It would fizz up and you drank it just like that. To me it tasted like Gin & Tonic (no disrespect to those Gin & Tonic lovers out there).
The official Dukoral website can be found here.
Was it Effective?
Now this is a bit hard for me to say. I was travelling throughout Asia for 3 months. Check out everywhere I went last summer.
The end result of my travels for 3 months? I never had any stomach issues at all throughout that whole time.
Now this could totally mean that I was lucky and never encountered any bad foods to give me diarrhea but part of me feels like Dukoral may have helped me more than I know. I was definitely not shy about eating street foods all around and was never extremely cautious so that’s gotta say something about the effectiveness of Dukoral.
The only story I can somewhat back up the effectiveness of Dukoral was how I didn’t take Dukoral and got some sort of food poisoning from my trip to Korea earlier this year in February.
I know that’s not really conclusive evidence but I say, why not reduce the chances of getting traveller’s diarrhea if you can?
Thumbs up for Dukoral. If you’re going to a country that is considered high risk and you’re going for 2 weeks or more, just take it. You might as well get yourself covered.