To ensure a happy and healthy trip away from home, don’t forget to protect yourself against cholera. Having cholera can keep you from enjoying your travels and stuck in the restroom instead. It’s always better to go to the beach instead of the bathroom.
What is Cholera?
Cholera is a bacterial infection usually spread through contaminated food or water. It is not spread from person-to-person. Symptoms of cholera include:
- Watery diarrhea
- Dry mucous membranes
- Muscle cramps
Those with more severe cases of cholera may experience:
- Renal failure
- Severe dehydration
In such cases, if untreated, the infection can be fatal within hours. Only 5-10% of people with cholera experience this severity.
Where is Cholera Found?
Food or water contaminated by the feces of an infected person is where the cholera bacterium is usually found. The bacterium can also live in rivers and coastal waters. The disease is most common in places with poor water treatment and sanitation. Cholera has been eliminated in industrialized countries with modern sewage and good water treatment.
If you’re traveling to an underdeveloped country, you should protect yourself against cholera. According to the World Health organization, the following regions have experienced recent cholera outbreaks:
How Can I Protect Myself Against Cholera?
In Canada, you can protect yourself against cholera by getting vaccinated.
Dukoral is an oral vaccine available for adults and children 2 years of age and older. The vaccine is given in 2 doses, 1 to 6 weeks apart. It can take up to two weeks for a person to have full protection.
The vaccine is not routinely given, as the disease is not a high risk within Canada. Travelers should consult a travel health specialist about the risk of cholera at their destination.
As with every vaccination, standard prevention from the illness should be continued. Follow these steps to avoid coming in contact with cholera bacteria:
- Drink Clean – Only drink bottled, boiled, or chemically treated water. Never drink tap water or get a drink with ice cubes in it. Do not consume fountain drinks either. Bottled or canned carbonated drinks are safe.
- Sanitize Wise – Wash your hands with soap and clean water, often. It is especially important to do so before you eat or prepare a meal and after you use the bathroom. If no soap is available, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner with at least 60% alcohol. Remember to use bottled, boiled, or chemically treated water to brush your teeth, wash dishes, prepare food, and make ice.
- Eat Safe – Only eat foods that are freshly cooked and served hot. Never eat raw or undercooked meats, seafood, or unpeeled fruits and vegetables. Those are great reservoirs for the cholera bacterium.
If you are planning to travel and are unsure of your risk of cholera, a Passport Health travel specialist can help. Dukoral vaccines are available on-site at your local Passport Health clinic. Schedule your appointment today by calling or booking online now.