Cholera in West Africa
Released: December 29, 2021
Large outbreaks of cholera have been identified in Niger and Nigeria. Surrounding countries have reported cases of cholera relating to these outbreaks.
Cholera is an acute diarrheal infection caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholera. The bacteria that cause cholera are usually found in water or food that has been contaminated by the feces of an infected person. Outbreaks of cholera occur mainly in places that have unsafe drinking water, are overcrowded and have inadequate sanitation.
Most people who have cholera do not show any symptoms or may experience mild illness. If you do show symptoms, you may experience:
• leg cramps
• watery diarrhea
In its most severe form, you can experience a sudden onset of profuse, painless, and watery diarrhea.
• can appear 12 hours to 5 days after you are infected
• can lead to serious dehydration (loss of fluids) and even death if not treated quickly
Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic at least 6 weeks before you travel.
- Higher risk travellers may benefit from vaccination and should consult with a health care professional to discuss this option. Travellers at higher risk for cholera include:
- travellers visiting areas with limited access to clean water, who do not follow proper hand hygiene precautions, or eat raw or poorly cooked food
- aid or humanitarian workers
Eat and drink safely
- Always take precautions with food and water to avoid getting sick.
- Only eat foods that are well cooked and served hot.
- Drink water that has been boiled, disinfected or is in a commercially sealed bottle.
Wash your hands as often as possible
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with your hands.
- Wash your hands with soap under warm running water for at least 20 seconds.
- This is especially important 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 some with you when you travel.
If you develop symptoms
Consult a health care professional immediately if you:
- develop severe diarrhea or vomiting during or after travel
- have any of the listed symptoms or think you have cholera
- your symptoms
- which countries you visited or lived in
Start drinking plenty of 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.
Registration of Canadians Abroad
Sign up with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service to stay connected with the Government of Canada in case of an emergency abroad or an emergency at home.
Report a problem on this page
- Date modified: