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

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Key Fact

Approximately 20% of travellers are confined to bed for 1-2 days with diarrhoea and 40% have to change their travel plans.3


    • How do people catch these disease?

      Mostly from food or water that has been contaminated with faeces containing the bacteria which cause these diseases.2,4,5

    • Which countries are affected?

      Cholera is common in Central and South America, Africa, Asia, Haiti and the Dominican Republic (see map).1,2,6

    • What are the symptoms?

      Watery diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting.7 Stomach cramps are also common in cases of cholera.1,2

    • How serious is the disease

      • Most cases of diarrhoea clear up within a few days. Dehydration is a risk in severe cases,7 so it’s important to keep drinking clean water. Electrolyte supplements may help.
      • 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.2
    • Can I reduce the chances of catching the disease?

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

      • Visit your nearest convenient specialist travel health clinic for a risk assessment before your trip4
      • Avoid eating raw or undercooked meat, seafood, fish, fruit or vegetables.5 Choose freshly-cooked food that’s served piping hot or fruit that you peel yourself
      • Avoid ice and stick to fizzy drinks in sealed bottles or cans, or freshly boiled hot drinks5
      • Wash your hands frequently, especially before eating and after using the toilet5
      • Avoid unsanitary living conditions to reduce your risk of cholera infection5
  1. Zentrum für Reisemedizin. Cholera. Available online: (Last accessed on May 2018)
  2. Cholera. Available online: (Last accessed on May 2018)
  3. Ericsson CD. Travelers’ diarrhea. Epidemiology, prevention, and self treatment. Infect Dis Clin North Am 1998;12:285–303
  4. World Health Organization. Factsheet. Cholera. August 2017. Available online: (Last accessed September 2017)
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yellow Book 2018. Chapter 3 Infectious Disease Related to Travel. Cholera. Available online: (Last accessed May 2018)
  6. World Health Organization. Countries reporting cholera, 2010-2015. September 2016. Available online: (Last accessed May 2018)
  7. Steffen R. Epidemiology of Traveler’s Diarrhea. Clin Infect Dis 2005:41(S8);S536–40.

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