Cholera in Dominican Republic and Haiti
Updated: July 17, 2017
- Information updated regarding the number of cholera cases and death reported
What is Cholera?
Cholera is an acute diarrheal infection that is caused by ingesting food or water that has been contaminated with the bacterium 'Vibrio cholerae'. Cholera causes watery diarrhea and can quickly lead to severe dehydration. In severe cases it can lead to death if left untreated.
Why should you be concerned?
Since 2010, Haiti and the Dominican Republic have experienced a cholera epidemic. Haiti reported over 800,500 cases of cholera and over 9,400 deaths. The Dominican Republic has had over 33,200 cases and 500 related deaths.
In Haiti, the regions of Grand Anse and du Sud were the most affected by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. Cholera cases increased as water and food supplies, as well as sanitary conditions, were affected. Visit Haiti's country page for more information on the regions most affected by natural disasters.
How can you prevent Cholera?
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Follow strict food and water precautions while travelling in the Dominican Republic or Haiti.
- Only eat foods that are well cooked and served hot.
- Only eat fruits and vegetables if you have washed them in safe water or peeled them yourself.
- Drink water only if it has been boiled or disinfected or if it is in a commercially sealed bottle.
Wash your hands frequently
- Wash your hands with soap under warm running water for at least 20 seconds as often as possible, including before eating or preparing food and after using the bathroom or changing diapers.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. It's a good idea to always keep some with you when you travel.
Consider getting vaccinated
- Travellers to usual tourist areas that practise safe food and water precautions and good hand hygiene are at low risk.
- Travellers visiting areas with limited access to clean water, that do not follow proper hand hygiene precautions, or eat raw or poorly cooked food are at higher risk for cholera. Higher risk travellers, such as aid or humanitarian workers or those that must travel to the high risk affected areas, may benefit from vaccination and should consult with a health care provider to discuss this option.
If you develop severe diarrhea and/or vomiting while travelling or after you return to Canada
- Seek medical attention immediately
- Tell your health care provider where you have been travelling or living.
- Drink fluids and use oral rehydration salts to prevent dehydration.
- Infants, young children, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions are at greatest risk of dehydration.
- Tell a flight attendant or the border services officer if you are ill while returning to Canada. They will notify a quarantine officer who can assess the symptoms and refer you for medical care.
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