Cholera is found in some parts of the world, mainly where people do not have access to a clean water supply or a modern sewerage system, mainly parts of Asia and Africa.
It is caused by water-borne germs so you are at risk of getting the infection if you drink unclean drinking water, eat food that has been in unclean water, e.g. fish and shellfish, or eating food prepared or handled by an infected person.
Anyone travelling to a part of the world where cholera is common, or to remote areas where there is little or no access to medical care.
To help prevent contact, good hygiene is essential. Always wash your hands with soap after you’ve been to the toilet. Do not drink tap water unless it is has been boiled – drinking bottled water is safest. Remember to use clean water all the time, including brushing your teeth, putting ice cubes in your drink, food preparation, washing fruit – it is safest to peel fruit before you eat it.
- Diarrhoea, which can sometimes be extreme
- Vomiting (less common)
Cholera is treatable, but sudden dehydration is the main danger. Depending on the severity of diarrhoea, you will need oral or intravenous hydration solutions. In bad cases, antibiotics may be used to kill the bacteria.
If you are travelling to an area of the world at risk from infection, it is a good idea to get vaccinated before you travel to the affected area. The cholera vaccine is taken in drink form and can last up to two years. Two doses are given 1-6 weeks apart.