Cholera is a potentially fatal infection of the small intestine that causes acute diarrhoea and vomiting, which in turn can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.
Cholera is vaccine-preventable, with the vaccine offering 85-90% protection against Cholera for a 2-year period. Travellers to high-risk areas may be recommended a course of two tablets, which is administered orally.
Countries at risk
Cholera occurs in areas of poor sanitation, with poor water and food hygiene, particularly in areas suffering from natural disasters or war zones.
Cholera is particularly prevalent in Central and South America, Africa, and Asia (see South East, East and Central), and it is estimated that 3-5 million people worldwide are affected every year. The disease caused the deaths of between 100,000 and 130,000 people in 2010.
While you are travelling, only drink water from a sealed bottle or from sources that have been treated by filtration, tablets or boiling. Avoid ice from unknown water sources. Avoid uncooked food and only eat fruit that you can peel. Ensure that hot food is freshly cooked and served hot. Use common sense concerning personal hygiene and hand washing.
Signs and Symptoms
The initial symptoms of Cholera can begin anywhere between 1-5 days after ingesting the bacteria. Sufferers can experience vomiting of a clear liquid, and painless diarrhoea, which is pale and cloudy in appearance. These symptoms can expel a massive amount of fluid from the body, resulting in dehydration and causing the skin to turn a greyish blue colour.