Traveler's Diarrhea Definition (TD)

Updated: 2018-12-07.
Traveler’s Diarrhea, abbreviated as TD, is essentially diarrhea with associated symptoms most often picked up by travelers and tourists.

According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine, “TD is defined as the passage of 3 or more unformed stools per day with 1 or more associated enteric symptom, such as abdominal pain or cramps, occurring in a traveler after arrival, usually in a resource-limited destination.”

“Globally, enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) and enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC) are the most common bacterial pathogens, with the exception of Southeast Asia, where Campylobacter is more common, a high proportion of which are fluoroquinolone resistant.”

A large prospective cohort study was taken to get some numbers on traveler’s diarrhea, and it found:

  • Around 26% of travelers abroad developed TD in the first two weeks;
  • Travel to Central Africa caused the highest rates, at 29.6%;
  • Travel to India and the subcontinent was second, at 26.3%;
  • Travel to West Africa was third, with 21.5%;
  • The median duration for traveler’s diarrhea was two days.

Read our guide on how to avoid an upset stomach and our health and hygiene flight tips.

Many colorful nicknames have arisen for TD. Common synonymous slang terms for traveler’s diarrhea include:

  • Montezuma’s Revenge
  • Aztec Two-Step
  • Pharaoh’s Curse
  • Turista
  • Bali Belly
  • Rangoon Runs
  • Delhi Belly
  • Gringo Gallop
  • Mummy’s Tummy
  • Malta Dog
  • Karachi Crouch
  • Tehran Tummy
  • Kabulitis
  • Jamaican Runs
  • Gyppy Tummy
  • Hong Kong Dog
  • Casablanca Crud
  • Turkey Trots
  • Cairo Cramps
  • Bangkok Surprise
  • Tut’s Trot
  • Singapore Shakes
  • Thai-dal Wave
  • Aden Gut
  • Trotskys
  • Taghazout Tummy
  • Kathmandu Quickstep

However, these slang terms are actually hyponyms for TD, as the scope of these words are narrower than the original. For example, “Montezuma’s Revenge” refers particularly to TD picked up in Mexico, and “Bali Belly” is traveler’s diarrhea picked up in Indonesia.

According to Phrase Finder, an October 1942 sentence from the Indiana Evening Gazette gives the earliest citations in print for these terms: “Americans on duty overseas are learning also to guard against ‘Teheran tummy’ and ‘Delhi belly.'”

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Montezuma's Revenge, Bali Belly, Delhi Belly
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