Cholera is an acute diarrheal infectious disease caused by the Vibrio cholerae bacterium. It is brought upon by the consumption of contaminated water or food and causes severe diarrhea. If left untreated (with adequate fluids by mouth or intravenously), cholera can cause death within hours.
Before traveling to a country where cholera is prevalent, visit Dr. Julian Klapowitz of Travel Medicine Consultations, who can provide the cholera vaccine NYC residents need to remain healthy throughout their trips.
What are the symptoms of Cholera?
In most cases, symptoms of cholera begin showing between 12 hours to 5 days after infection. With only 10% of infected cases being severe, many of those who have been infected don’t show any symptoms or signs of cholera.
The symptoms of cholera can be mild to severe and include:
- Leg and abdominal cramps
A person infected by the Vibrio cholerae bacterium will quickly lose fluids, which causes severe dehydration and sometimes shock and death. Several gallons of fluid loss may occur over the course of the illness. The signs and symptoms of dehydration caused by cholera include:
- Dry mouth
- Loose skin
- Decreased secretions
- Sunken eyes
- Rapid heartbeat
- Rapid weight loss
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Low blood pressure
Places where cholera is common:
Cholera is prevalent in areas where access to clean drinking water is an issue. The disease is primarily found in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. Countries reporting major cholera epidemics have included Haiti, Yemen, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, and Tanzania.
Cholera vaccine and prevention:
Following food and water precautions closely and performing thorough hand-washing before eating are two effective prevention measures. If you are traveling to an area where cholera infections frequently occur due to poor sanitation or to ANY area where there have been recent outbreaks of the disease, vaccination is recommended. Worldwide, cholera vaccination has been available for a number of years. In the US, the oral vaccination Vaxchora became available mid-2016. It is a powder mixed with water that you usually drink at a travel clinic or doctor’s office.