What is Cholera and how Does it Spread?

Cholera is an acute, diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine with the toxigenic bacterium Vibrio Cholerae serogroup O1 or O139. The Cholera bacterium is usually found in water or food sources that have been contaminated by faeces from a person infected with Cholera. Cholera is most likely to be found and spread in places with inadequate water treatment, poor sanitation, and inadequate hygiene. The disease can spread rapidly in areas with inadequate treatment of sewage and drinking water. The disease is not likely to spread directly from one person to another; therefore, casual contact with an infected person is not a risk of becoming ill.

What is Cholera Vaccine and Why Should Travellers get the Vaccine?

Cholera vaccination is called Dukoral and is currently recommended for Canadian travellers. The vaccine is administered orally in two doses one taken up to six weeks prior to departure and the second taken at least one week before the trip. The vaccination protects against travellers’ diarrhoea for up to three months and from Cholera infection for up to two years. A single booster dose is recommended every three months for those travellers staying in an at-risk destination for a longer time period.

Who Should get Cholera Vaccine

Travellers to countries where cholera is a risk, travellers who visit friends and family in an outbreak area or working in high-risk settings, travelers who work at higher risk areas such as refugee or cholera treatment centers, travelers who stay longer or have less access to safe food and water. Extra precaution should be taken when travelling to the following locations: Haiti / Dominican republic / Cuba / Tanzania

Cholera Symptoms

  1. Watery diarrhea
  2. Vomiting
  3. Rapid dehydration
  4. Nausea

What can Travellers do to Prevent the Disease?

  1. Safe eating and drinking practices.
  2. Eat raw vegetables, peel them and wash them properly before consuming.
  3. Use safe drinking water.
  4. Avoid salads or raw foods made with fresh produce.
  5. Have drinks without ice as the water used in the cubes may be contaminated.
  6. Eat properly cooked foods only when they are served hot.
  7. Brush your teeth with drinking safe water.
  8. Boil water or use a chemical disinfectant or treat your water with ultraviolet light.