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How to avoid Delhi belly

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Photo taken at The Golden Temple, Amritsar

Top question on everybody’s lips when I got back from India: “Did you get Delhi belly?”

Now, this isn’t going to be the most pleasant article you’ve ever read. But read on. I’ll try to keep it above the toilet line, and it might just save your holiday or travels from some deeply horrible afflictions.

The answer is no. My stomach was fine. And yet, I did all the bad things:

  • I distractedly drank tap water in Delhi
  • I ate salad and ice cream in Jaipur
  • I brushed my teeth using tap water in Amritsar
  • I had an iced tea in Shimla
  • I drank lukewarm chai (tea) on the train

By rights, I should probably have been very sick. Here – with the big bold caveat that I’m not a doctor and have no medical training – is why I think I was ok.

Before I left, I took Dukorol™, an oral vaccine for cholera. It’s administered in two doses, a week apart.

The doctor informed me that it’s not particularly common for overseas travellers to pick up cholera, as you’d need to be drinking visibly dirty water, and the vaccine is not generally recommended.

However, users of Dukorol™ have widely reported that it also protects against the main forms of traveller’s diarrhea.  As I only had a little over two weeks in India, I didn’t want to spend half the time on the toilet, so I took it. Clearly, it worked wonders, and it was well worth the €44 price tag. I’d highly recommend it to anyone travelling to South or Central America, Africa, the Middle East, or Asia.

On a vaguely related note… A friend recently informed me that she was planning on taking homoepathic malarial medication on an overseas trip. I was mildly horrified. I know there are many practitioners and users who genuinely believe that homeopathy, also known as water, works. But it’s, at best, a well-meaning placebo – reassuring like a  mammy’s hug.  At worst, it’s a life-threatening, duplicitous,  fraudulent, unscientific, waste of money. Grand if you’ve got a sore finger or a runny nose but not for real, life-threatening illnesses like malaria (if you’ve think I’m wrong, please present some tested, researched, verified and reproduced proof – i.e. science – and I’ll happily withdraw my slur when you win the Nobel Prize for Medicine).

Please don’t waste your money or risk your life on homeopathic malaria remedies. And if you don’t want diarrhea, drink that cholera vaccine!

6 Comments

  1. I spent a month on India recently and was lucky to never get sick although I did drink the water, eat street food, drink lukewarm chai on a train and brush my teeth with tap water. I also took Dukorol although I had no idea it protects from travellers diarrhea so that must have been it. Besdt 40 euro I spent!

  2. Great advice. The manufacturer claims it’s efficacious against traveller’s diarrhea.

    http://www.crucell.com/Products/Dukoral

  3. LOL! “homeopathy, also known as water”. I’m sure you’ve seen this but it never fails to amuse me… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVV3QQ3wjC8

  4. I’d forgotten about that sketch. Hilarious!

  5. I hadn’t heard about the cholera vaccine but when I have travelled in the past and had to take a malaria prophylaxis I always chose doxycycline, which has the added benefit of being one of the treatments of choice for E. coli as well as a number of other nasty bugs.

  6. hope u enjoyed ur travels! my husband is indian and im part indian (my great grandmum). we plan to go back ourselves, n i knew about meds but not in details…gotta agree…there r some things homeopathic is good for, and others when you’re just being a fool.

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