Horrible bug guilty of causing diarrhea, vomiting and severe dehydration in people travelling to South and Middle America, Africa, and Asia. Beware of infected food and water.

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Key Facts around Cholera

Between 30% and 70% of all travellers suffer from diarrhea on their trip.1 Approximately 20% of infected people are confined to bed for 1-2 days, whereby around 40% must change their travel plans.2


    • How do people catch this disease?

      Mostly from food or water that has been contaminated with faeces containing the bacteria which cause this disease.5,6,7

    • Which countries are affected?

      Cholera is common in Central and Middle America, Africa, Asia, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic (see map).3

    • What are the symptoms?

      Watery diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.5.6  Although most of the infections are mild or asymptomatic, severe cases of cholera can lead to death within hours if left untreated. Stomach cramps are also common in cases of cholera.6

    • How serious is the disease

      • Most cases of diarrhea are mild or asympthomatic.5,6,7 Dehydration is a risk in severe cases, so it’s important to keep drinking clean water. Electrolyte supplements may help.5,6,7
      • Cholera is a severe and potentially fatal bacterial infection that requires urgent treatment to prevent dehydration. Immediate replacement of liquids and electrolytes or antibiotics given by infusion.5,6,7
    • Can I reduce the chances of catching Cholera?

      You can take the following precautions to help reduce your risk of infection:

      • Visit a travel health clinic to assess the risks of the planned trip and get advice about available vaccinations and further precautions.
        Click here to find your nearest travel health clinic and make an appointment:
      • Avoid eating raw or undercooked meat, seafood, fish, fruit or vegetables. Choose freshly cooked food that’s served piping hot or fruit that you peel yourself. 8
      • Avoid ice and stick to fizzy drinks in sealed bottles or cans, or freshly boiled hot drinks.8
      • Wash your hands frequently, especially before eating and after using the toilet.8
      • Avoid unsanitary living conditions to reduce your risk of cholera infection.8
  1. Heather CS. Travellers' diarrhoea. BMJ Clin Evid. 2015; 2015: 0901.
  2. Ericsson CD. Travelers’ diarrhea. Epidemiology, prevention, and self treatment. Infect Dis Clin North Am 1998;12:285–303
  3. World Health Organization. Countries reporting cholera, 2010-2015. 2016. Available online: (Last accessed October 2022)
  4. Steffen R. Epidemiology of Traveler’s Diarrhea. Clin Infect Dis 2005:41(S8);S536–40.
  5. World Health Organization. Factsheet. Cholera. March 2022. Available online: (Last accessed October 2022)
  6. Cholera. Available online: (Last accessed October 2022)
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yellow Book 2020. Chapter 4 Travel-Related Infectious Disease. Cholera. Available online: (Last accessed October 2022)
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yellow Book 2020. Chapter 2 Preparing International Travelers. Food & Water Precautions. Available online: (Last accessed October 2022)

20 Feb 2023
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