What is Cholera?
Cholera is a bacterial infection of the intestine caused by ingesting contaminated food (often shellfish), milk or water. Although cholera is a major health problem in developing countries, the risk to travelers is generally limited. Most people infected with cholera experience no symptoms or get mild diarrhea, but some people develop severe diarrhea accompanied by dehydration and loss of electrolytes (body salts). Symptoms typically occur 1 -3 days after infection. Severe cases can progress to low blood pressure, subnormal temperature, rapid breathing, muscle cramps, shock and coma.
Countries of Risk:
Cholera may be present in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, parts of Europe, Mexico and South and Central America.
Preparations for Travel to at Risk Areas & Recommended Immunizations:
It is important to follow food and water precautions. Cholera vaccine is no longer required, nor recommended for the vast majority of travelers by the Centers for Disease Control. However, a new, safe and effective oral cholera vaccine that can prevent infection or limit the severity of symptoms is available in a number of countries and approval is pending in others (discuss its availability and appropriateness for you with your health care provider). If you contract cholera despite preventive measures, use oral rehydration solutions (ORS) to replace fluids lost through watery diarrhea and take an appropriate antibiotic.