Travel Health Advice - Cholera
What is it? Cholera is an intestinal disease that starts suddenly and varies in severity. Most infections do not result in symptoms and do not cause any illness. Mild cases cause diarrhoea and no other symptoms. Severe cases cause a sudden onset of very watery diarrhoea, plus nausea and vomiting. This then rapidly leads to dehydration which in severe and untreated cases may cause death within as little as a few hours due to circulatory collapse. How is it transmitted? Cholera infection happens when contaminated food or water is consumed directly or when coming into indirect contact with the faeces or vomit of infected persons. Cholera is not caused by insect or animal transmission. Where is it present? Cholera is widespread, occurring in developing countries with poor sanitation and lack of clean drinking water. It is frequently present in war-torn countries where sewerage systems and running water have collapsed. Developing countries in Africa and Asia are most commonly affected, with less frequent occurrences in Central and South America. What is the risk? The risk of getting cholera is very low for most travellers, even where a cholera epidemic is present. What can I do to prevent getting it? Oral cholera vaccines can be taken before departure. Avoid eating or drinking anything (food, drink and water) that may have been contaminated. Wash all foods before eating and keep hands clean as far as possible. Take oral rehydration salts to combat dehydration where severe diarrhoea is present.