Every year, 2.9 million cases of cholera are diagnosed across the world. Spread via contaminated food and water, cholera can be a serious and potentially fatal disease. For this reason, getting the appropriate vaccination is critical, especially when traveling to areas of the world where cholera is prevalent. Below are some important things to know about this disease.
A Guide to Cholera & Vaccinations
What Causes Cholera?
Cholera is a bacterial infection. The bacterium is most often transmitted by drinking water or eating food that has been tainted by the feces of an infected person. This is primarily a concern in geographic regions with poor drinking water quality and ineffective sewage treatment. Most outbreaks of the disease are in or near the tropics; one major 2015 outbreak occurred in several African counties.
What Are the Symptoms?
Symptoms of cholera depend on the severity of the infection. Mild cases often exhibit no symptoms at all. More serious cases are signaled by watery diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps. If not treated promptly, cholera can cause dehydration and can even lead to death in extreme cases. If you experience any of the above symptoms, seek medical attention promptly.
What Vaccinations Are Available?
Fortunately, cholera isn’t a major issue in countries with safe drinking water. However, if you’re traveling to a destination where there is a higher likelihood of contracting the disease – such as Haiti, the Dominican Republic, India, Bangladesh, Yemen, and several African nations – proper vaccination is essential. In 2016, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of a single-use oral vaccine called Vaxchora®. Anyone between the ages of 18 and 64 who is planning travel to a cholera-prone region should receive the vaccine. It works by introducing a safe and incomplete version of cholera toxin into the body; the body responds to the nontoxic version and produces an immunity to the disease.
Understanding these fundamentals of cholera will protect you the next time you travel. Before your next trip, turn to HealthSmart Vaccines. These medical professionals offer comprehensive travel vaccinations, including for cholera. Serving the Fairfax County, VA, area, they also provide testing, onsite group clinics, and travel insurance. Call (703) 961-0733 or visit their website to schedule an appointment today.