Cholera in Dominican Republic and Haiti
Updated: June 30, 2016
Travel Health Notice
Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. People usually become infected from drinking or eating contaminated water or food. Cholera is associated with watery diarrhea and rapid dehydration, which can be life-threatening.
Since October 2010, Haiti and the Dominican Republic have been experiencing a cholera epidemic. Haiti has had over 750,000 cases of cholera and over 9,000 related deaths. The Dominican Republic has had over 32,000 suspected cases and close to 500 related deaths. To date in 2016, Haiti has had over 13,000 suspected cases reported and the Dominican Republic has had over 700 suspected cases, an increase when compared to the same time period in 2015 for both countries.
The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends practising safe food and water precautions while in Dominican Republic or Haiti.
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
1. Practise safe food and water precautions.
2. 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.
3. 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 may benefit from vaccination and should consult with a health care provider to discuss this option.
4. If you develop severe diarrhea and/or vomiting while travelling or after you return to Canada
- Seek medical attention immediately and 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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