ABC Guide to Travel Health - Vaccines, Vaccinations

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Cholera, an infection of the small intestine, is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.7,9 Most infections are asymptomatic, i.e. do not cause any illness, or are mildly symptomatic. Symptoms of severe cholera include a sudden onset of painless, profuse watery diarrhoea with nausea and vomiting which can cause severe dehydration and death.7,9

Transmission occurs through consumption of food and water contaminated by the bacteria.9

Geographical distribution9
Cholera occurs mainly in poor countries with inadequate sanitation and a lack of clean drinking water, after natural disasters such as floods and in war-torn countries where the infrastructure may have broken down. Many developing countries are affected, particularly those in Africa and Asia, and to a lesser extent those in Central and South America

See cholera distribution map9

Risk for travellers
Very low for most travellers, even in countries where cholera epidemics occur.9 Each year there are usually between 2 to 6 cases in Australians returning home from overseas.7

Precautions and prevention7,9

  • Avoid consumption of potentially contaminated food, drinks and drinking water. Please follow precautions in Eating safely and Drinking safely.
  • Carry oral rehydration salts (e.g. Gastrolyte) for use in case of severe diarrhoea to avoid dehydration.
  • Oral cholera vaccines are available for use by travellers and those in occupational risk groups, but are not routinely recommended. (see your doctor)

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