Cholera is an illness caused by bacteria that can result in watery diarrhoea and vomiting.1 In healthy people, cholera can be asymptomatic or mild with diarrhoea being the only symptom. In severe cases however, the illness has a sudden onset with watery diarrhoea, nausea (feeling sick) and vomiting. If left untreated, this can lead to severe dehydration and can potentially lead to death within hours.1,2
The overall risk of cholera for most travellers is extremely low. While cholera can be found worldwide, certain regions are more affected than others. The disease is more common in areas with poor sanitation, poverty and limited access to clean drinking water, such as parts of Africa, India and Southeast Asia. Certain activities can increase your risk of infection in areas where the disease is endemic, such as drinking unclean water and eating poorly cooked seafood. Relief workers in disaster or refugee areas are also at risk.1,2
Cholera is normally spread through water that has been contaminated with faeces, but can also be spread through food. If you become infected with cholera, you will need antibiotic therapy, as well as treatment to replace any lost fluids.2
A vaccine is available for people who are considered to be at an increased risk of cholera, including:1,2
It is important to practice good personal hygiene while travelling, including washing your hands before eating and after visiting the bathroom.1,2
Make sure you contact your GP or travel health practitioner in plenty of time before you travel to discuss the ways you can help to keep yourself healthy whilst away. You should try and contact them at least 4–6 weeks before your trip.
After your trip, you should contact your GP if you develop a fever or notice any other unusual symptoms.
Date of preparation: November 2017