Cholera is a potentially fatal infection of the small intestine that causes acute diarrhoea and vomiting, which in turn can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.

Countries at risk

Central and South America, Africa, and Asia, and it is estimated that 3-5 million people worldwide are affected every year.

Travel precautions

While you are travelling, only drink water from a sealed bottle, or from sources that have been treated by filtration, tablets or boiling. Avoid ice from unknown water sources. Avoid uncooked food and only eat fruit that you can peel. Ensure that hot food is freshly cooked and served hot. Use common sense concerning personal hygiene and hand washing.

Signs and symptoms

The initial symptoms of cholera can begin anywhere between 1-5 days after ingesting the bacteria. Sufferers can experience vomiting of a clear liquid, and painless diarrhoea, which is pale and cloudy in appearance. These symptoms can expel a massive amount of fluid from the body, resulting in dehydration and causing the skin to turn a greyish blue colour.


Cholera is vaccine-preventable, with the cholera vaccine offering 85-90% protection against cholera for a 2-year period. Travellers to high-risk areas may be recommended a course of two Dukoral which is administered orally.

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