New Antibiotic for Traveler's Diarrhea: Xifaxan (Rifaximin)
U.S. travelers to Mexico, India and other destinations well-known as hotspots for traveler's diarrhea (TD) have a new way to protect themselves. The U.S. FDA approved Rifaximin, a Europrean antibiotic, for use against TD under the name Xifaxan.
What makes Xifaxan better than Cipro or similar antidiarrheal drugs is that it remains in the intestine when taken, rather than circulating throughout the bloodstream. This focus makes it good as a preventative: get a doctor's prescription and take it in small doses from the beginning of your trip, to ward off -- not just respond to -- cramps and diarrhea.
In a recent study of 209 visitors to Mexico, 75-85% of the people who took Xifaxan remained diarrhea-free, compared to 42% who took a placebo. And, Xifaxan's antibacterial protection continued for a week after subjects stopped taking it.
Note: Xifaxan is specifically targeted at E. coli bacteria that are the typical cause of TD -- it's not for use against fever and diarrhea caused by Campylobacter, Salmonella or other intestinal bacteria.