What are the symptoms of Cholera?

Cholera is an acute bacterial infection caused by v. Cholera that targets the gastrointestinal system and causes watery diarrhea.

Many people who are infected with Cholera do not have symptoms. Those who do develop symptoms will experience illness that ranges from mild to severe.

Symptoms of this infection begin with the rapid onset of diarrhea, sometimes accompanied by vomiting. If left untreated, Cholera can progress rapidly to dehydration and kidney failure, which can be life threatening.

Severe Cholera is characterized by acute, profuse, watery diarrhea and by vomiting, which lead to dehydration. Other symptoms include muscle cramps, reduced urination, sunken eyes, dry mucus membranes, increased heart rate, and reduced blood pressure. If Cholera is untreated, dehydration and electrolyte imbalance can lead to shock and death.

How can I get Cholera?

You can get this illness from contaminated food or water. Although Cholera can spread rapidly in areas where drinking water and sewage are not properly treated, most travellers are at low risk. However, the risk increases for relief workers who travel to remote areas and for travellers who do not take adequate food and water precautions.

Where can I get Cholera?

Most cases of this illness occur in developing countries. There have been outbreaks in Africa, Asia, India, and Central and South America.

What vaccines are available for Cholera?

Dukoral® is an oral vaccine that you drink. It helps to prevent Cholera caused by v. Cholera and Travellers’ Diarrhea caused by enterooxigenic E. coli (ETEC). It does not treat Cholera or Travellers’ Diarrhea that has already developed, and it does not prevent diarrhea caused by other organisms. Dukoral® does not provide full protection. It is rarely recommended specifically for Cholera protection for routine travellers.

For more info on Dukoral® click here.

How many doses will I need?

Adults and children over two years of age can take Dukoral® to prevent Cholera.

Adults and children over age six need two doses, at least one week apart. Because Dukoral® takes one week after the final dose to be effective, you should take your first dose at least two weeks before you travel.

Children from age two to six need three does, with the first dose taken three weeks before travel.

Side effects are infrequent, but may include mild abdominal discomfort and slight diarrhea.

You should not take Dukoral® if you have a fever, acute gastrointestinal disease, immune system disease, are pregnant, or are allergic to Dukoral® or its components.

Will I need a booster?

Dukoral® works to prevent this illness for two years in adults and children over age six. Children from age two to six need a booster every six months if they remain at risk.

How can I prevent Cholera?

Frequent hand washing and food and water safety precautions are the best ways to prevent a Cholera infection. If you are travelling to areas where tap water may not be safe to drink and bottled beverages are not available, be prepared to purify your own drinking water. You can boil your water or use filters or water purification tablets or drops.

Avoid raw or undercooked shellfish and fish.

What is the treatment for Cholera?

Rehydration is the main therapy for this illness. When you have Cholera, you lose fluids, salts, and minerals, and you may become dehydrated. Children and older adults are especially prone to severe dehydration.

Drink plenty of fluids, but avoid alcohol, caffeine, and dairy products, as these may make your symptoms worse. You can also use an oral rehydration solution (ORS). These solutions contain water and mineral salts to replenish fluids and electrolytes, as well as glucose or another simple carbohydrate to enhance absorption.

Severe Cholera may also be treated with antibiotics and intravenous fluids and electrolytes.

Find out more information on Diphtheria from our Vancouver Travel Clinic or any of our other 18 Travel Clinic locations.