Cholera in Africa and Western Asia (Yemen)
Updated: July 31, 2017
- Information has been updated regarding the number of cholera cases and deaths 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.
Cholera is endemic in many countries around the world. Every year there are between 1.3 to 4 million cases of cholera, with between 20 000 to 140 000 deaths. Travellers to tourist areas that practise safe food and water precautions and good hand hygiene are at low risk.
Why should you be concerned?
The World Health Organization has confirmed outbreaks of cholera in the following countries:
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- South Sudan
How can you protect yourself from Cholera?
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Find out if there is a risk of cholera in the country you are visiting.
- Visit the country page of your destination
- Click on the Health tab
- Click on the Food/Water
Follow strict food and water precautions while travelling in outbreak areas.
Wash your hands frequently
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Do this 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. Always keep a bottle with you when you travel.
Consider getting vaccinated
- Travellers visiting areas with limited access to clean water, who 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 high risk 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.
- Drink fluids and use oral rehydration salts to prevent dehydration.
- Infants, young children and 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 as you enter the country. They will notify a quarantine officer who can assess your symptoms.
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