Cholera is an acute, diarrhoeal illness caused by infection of the intestine with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. An estimated 3-5 million cases and over 100,000 deaths occur each year around the world. The infection is often mild or without symptoms, but can sometimes be severe. Approximately one in 10 (5-10%) infected persons will have severe disease characterized by profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps. In these people, rapid loss of body fluids leads to dehydration and shock. Without treatment, death can occur within hours.
Cholera is endemic in Africa, Asia, South America and Central America. Cholera epidemics are common in circumstances where food and water supplies can become contaminated, such as after natural disasters and civil unrest. Cases of cholera in Australia (about 2 to 6 cases a year) almost always occur in individuals who have been infected in endemic areas overseas. However, the overall risk of cholera to travellers with access to a safe water source and hygienic food preparation is considered to be low, even when visiting countries where cholera is endemic.
What is helpful however, is the reduction in risk of Traveller’s Diarrhoea associated with E.Coli. The cholera vaccine can reduce the risk of getting E.Coli by 67% for 3 months. So if travelling to a destination where trying the local cuisine and eating authentically is a must, consider this very useful vaccination.
Cholera vaccination is given as a drink, and two doses are required a minimum of 1 week and maximum of 6 weeks apart.
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