Travelers diarrhea could cost your trip to a hospital, even if you have no symptoms, according to a new study from Harvard Medical School.
“Travelers diarrhea is a serious medical condition that can affect anyone who travels or is exposed to it,” said Dr. Robert C. Lapp, associate professor of infectious disease at Harvard Medical College and lead author of the study, which was published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
Travelers diarrhoea is caused by a variety of bacteria and can affect nearly any person who travels.
The condition is more common in older adults and those who are immunocompromised, such as people with HIV or AIDS.
“In our study, we found that travelers diarrhea was associated with significant health care costs, with the largest amounts of medical and nursing care being spent in the first trimester of pregnancy,” Lapp said.
In the study’s first year of follow-up, researchers found that more than 4,000 travelers had diarrhea and were treated in hospitals in China, Taiwan, and Japan.
Of those, 5,000 patients were hospitalized.
The researchers said they also found that patients with diarrhea were more likely to travel with a doctor to a general hospital, the same hospital where the traveler had been admitted.
“The higher cost of care associated with traveling with diarrhea can lead to increased travel and increased travel-related costs, especially in the third trimester,” Latt said.
The study found that people with diarrhea who had been hospitalized in China and Taiwan were more than twice as likely to have had a stroke, heart attack, and respiratory illness.
“While the study did not directly address travel-specific costs associated with travelers diarrhea, we did find that patients in Taiwan and China had higher travel-associated costs than travelers in the U.S.,” Latt added.
“This finding is likely related to higher rates of travel-linked COVID-19, which increases hospitalizations and death from COVID.”