1. What can be done to prevent a bacterial infection of the digestive tract?
The best things to do are to not drink water or eat food that may be contaminated and to be careful with sanitation measures, such as hand washing. Food that might be contaminated, such as raw meats and eggs, should be cooked thoroughly. Cooked foods and foods that are served raw should not touch any surfaces that may have been contaminated. When you are traveling to developing nations, it is best to only drink bottled water, carbonated drinks, and hot cooked foods. Avoid fresh fruits and vegetables, limiting yourself to those that you can peel yourself. Food from street vendors is generally not considered safe. If someone in your household has an infection that is causing diarrhea, careful hand washing by all family members is recommended, and the person infected should not prepare food or drink for others until the infection is over.
If the stool is not fresh, or in a preservative, the proportion of the different kinds of bacteria in the stool can change no longer representing the proportions present in the gastrointestinal tract. Overgrowth of normal bacteria can sometimes prevent the detection of the pathogenic bacteria as can exposing the stool sample to temperature extremes.
3. Why shouldn't I take an over the counter anti-diarrhea medicine when I have infectious diarrhea?
Diarrhea is one of the methods your body uses to help rid itself of the infection. If you slow down or prevent this from happening by taking anti-diarrhea medication, you can prolong the amount of time that you are ill and sometimes make your infection worse.
4. Once I've had a pathogenic bacterial infection, can I be re-infected?
Generally yes. You may develop a short-term immunity against the particular strain of pathogenic bacteria that caused your infection, but there are many other types and strains of pathogenic bacteria that can make you ill if you are exposed to them.
This article was last reviewed on October 31, 2011. | This article was last modified on March 4, 2015.
The review date indicates when the article was last reviewed from beginning to end to ensure that it reflects the most current science. A review may not require any modifications to the article, so the two dates may not always agree.
The modified date indicates that one or more changes were made to the article. Such changes may or may not result from a full review of the article, so the two dates may not always agree.