It is present in parts of the world where sanitation and hygiene are poor. The incubation of cholera ranges from a few hours to five days and first presents with very bad, watery diarrhoea sometimes loosing up to a litre an hour! It is at this stage that rehydration is very important.
Who is at risk of Cholera?
Any traveller to areas where Cholera is endemic (that is: the infection is present in low levels) is at risk. This includes parts of South America, Africa and parts of the Middle East and India, and in Asia.
How can I prevent Cholera?
The best way to prevent any diseases causing diarrhoea is to be very careful with food and water while in an endemic area. Food products that could potentially put a traveller at risk and that should be avoided include raw fish and seafood products, and any food that has been washed in potentially unclean water. Proper cooking of food and adequate boiling of water will protect the traveller from contamination through food and water. Strict personal hygiene is also essential.
Vaccination is not usually advised for travellers. If you are going to an area where Cholera is present, however, it might be wise to carry a letter from a GP stating that the vaccine is not indicated. Some travellers also would be advised to carry with them a sterile needle pack in the event that a border guard insists on vaccination!
Note: This information is designed to complement and not replace the relationship that exists with your existing family doctor or travel health professional. Please discuss your travel health requirements with your regular family doctor or practice nurse.