Cholera Disease and Vaccine Information

Cholera is a severe diarrhoeal disease caused by a bacteria which is generally transmitted to humans by ingesting contaminated food or water. Contaminated shellfish can also be a source of infection. Cholera outbreaks usually occur due to poor sanitation in areas where there are a large number of people in close proximity, usually due to a natural disaster, war or civil unrest. Tourists are rarely at risk of contracting cholera, even in high risk countries. However, all travellers to high risk regions should take precautions when consuming food and water.

Cholera can be life threatening if left untreated or in very severe cases but with treatment, the death rate is less than 1%.

Symptoms of Cholera

The main symptom of cholera is diarrhoea but other stomach related symptoms are often also present. Most of the symptoms are a result of severe dehydration caused by fluid loss due to the diarrhoea. Possible symptoms include:

  • diarrhoea
  • stomach cramps
  • muscle cramps
  • vomiting
  • fever

Treatment for Cholera

The typical treatment for cholera involves aggressive rehydration to restore lost body fluids as well as treatment to replace electrolytes. The treatment usually consists of an intravenous injection of a salt/sugar solution.

Cholera Vaccine

The cholera vaccine is given in two doses and generally provides protection for 3 years. The cholera vaccine is not 100% effective so travellers should take care at all times when consuming food and water in high risk areas.

High Risk Destinations

Vaccination against cholera is recommended for travellers to certain high risk countries and regions where there is an immediate risk of cholera. Although any traveller to these regions may require the cholera vaccine, it is mainly administered to health care and emergency relief workers. Cholera is present in many countries such as:

  • Afghanistan
  • Angola
  • Cameroon
  • Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • Congo
  • Côte d’Ivoire
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Ethiopia
  • Ghana
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Iraq
  • Liberia
  • Madagascar
  • Malawi
  • Mauritania
  • Mozambique
  • Nigeria
  • Senegal
  • Sierra Leone
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • Sudan
  • Swaziland
  • Tanzania
  • Togo
  • Uganda
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

Travel vaccination advice is subject to change so please consult your doctor well before you plan to travel.