Cholera is a bacterial infection of the gastro-intestinal tract caused by the bacterium Vibrio Cholerae. These bacteria are typically ingested by drinking water contaminated by improper sanitation or by eating improperly cooked fish, especially shell fish. Vibrio cholerae causes the disease by producing a toxin that induces severe painless watery diarrhoea of sudden onset, occasionally accompanied by vomiting, which rapidly leads to dehydration. The profuse diarrhoea allows the bacterium to spread to other people under insanitary conditions.
Avoiding contaminated food and water, especially raw or undercooked seafood from polluted water will help prevent contracting the illness. For people travelling to highly endemic or epidemic areas, particularly emergency relief and health workers in refugee situations can and should be vaccinated.
Cholera can cause severe diarrhoea and vomiting. This can quickly lead to severe dehydration, and can be fatal.
Cholera is spread through contaminated food, particularly shellfish and water.
Cholera is found throughout the world, particularly in areas with poor sanitation, including parts of Africa, India, South East Asia, the Middle East and parts of Central America.
All travellers should be aware of the risk of cholera and other diarrhoeal diseases and follow strict food and water precautions.
Warning: Avoid food and drink for at least one hour before and after dosing.The vaccine is taken orally (by mouth), as a small amount of liquid to be swallowed. Adults and children over six years of age require two doses (two years protection). After two years, a booster will be required. Children aged 2-6 years will need to have three doses of the vaccine. Doses must be given at least one week apart, but no more than six weeks apart. If more than 6 weeks has past between doses the course needs to be restarted. The vaccinations should be completed at least one week before travelling.£ The cholera vaccine should not be given to children under two years of age.
After having the cholera vaccine, a small percentage of people may experience symptoms that are similar to a mild stomach upset, such as abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and nausea (feeling sick). Severe reactions are rare. However, details of possible side effects and special precautions should be discussed during the appointment.
Please be aware that for full immunity some vaccination courses, with more than one vaccine required, may take up to a month or longer. Please, also be aware that many vaccinations will not become fully effective until weeks after the course completion. It is strongly advised that you leave plenty of time to complete the course before your trip. Intervals between different vaccines or doses are recommended, which allows time for antibodies to be produced and any reaction to the vaccine to subside.
Please contact us for more information or to book an appointment at any one of our occupational health clinics.
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The Independent General Practice