Public Health Fact Sheet

What is Diarrhea?
Diarrhea is defined as an increased number of loose, watery stools, usually more than three stools in 24 hours. Stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and/or fever may or may not be present as well. Diarrhea is usually caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites. It can also occur when antibiotics kill the “good” bacteria in the intestines.

How is Diarrhea treated?
Many episodes of diarrhea can be dealt with at home with drinking clear liquids and using over the counter anti-diarrheal medications. 
Dehydration is the most common complication of diarrhea.  Seek medical attention if severe dehydration is suspected (especially in children).

How can we prevent the spread of diarrhea?
Most importantly, wash your hands withy soap and water after using the bathroom or changing diapers and before eating and drinking or handling food.

Cook foods thoroughly and be sure to wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly prior to eating.  Some foods such as eggs, meat, poultry, seafood, and raw fruits ad vegetables may be contaminated with the bacteria, viruses or parasites that cause diarrhea.  Do not drink water from rivers, lake, or streams as it also can be contaminated with bacteria, viruses or parasites that produce diarrhea.

February 2020