Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal disease caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. It is usually transmitted via infected food or water that has been contaminated by faeces. Globally an estimated 2.9 million cases occur which results in 95,000 deaths.
After an incubation period that may last from a few hours to 5 days, severe cholera is characterised by a sudden onset of watery diarrhoea accompanied by nausea and vomiting. If left untreated, this can rapidly lead to serious dehydration, electrolyte imbalance and circulatory collapse. Over half of the most severe cases, affecting risk individuals result in death within a few hours; with prompt, effective treatment, death occurs in less than 1%.
In healthy individuals, symptoms may be mild and then only diarrhoea may be seen.
It can be treated by fluid replacement, using oral rehydration salts in combination with antibiotics.
Visitors to countries and areas where cholera is present and who will be unable to take reasonable precautions with food and water, e.g. relief workers and when working in refugee camps or slum areas, should consider being vaccinated.
The vaccine available in the UK is called Dukoral. It is a vaccine which you make up from a powder, and then drink.
Luckily the risk of Cholera for most travellers is low but the risk is increased if travelling to war zones, disaster zones or refugee camps. Essentially Cholera thrives in areas where living standards have rapidly declined. Prevention is focused on ensuring safe food and water, particularly in countries where cholera is more common. When consuming food and water be wary of untreated water, ice, shellfish, salads, unwashed fruit and vegetables.
Good personal hygiene is also very important. Individuals should ensure that they wash their hands prior to eating and after visiting the bathroom.
Dukoral, like most cholera vaccines, needs to be refrigerated. Unfortunately, as a mail order business, we cannot guarantee the vaccine will arrive with you safely.
While you are reading about Cholera vaccine, have you checked what other vaccines or antimalarials you might need?