Cholera vaccination for travel

Cholera is an incredibly dangerous and fast-acting disease that affects the small intestine. You are most likely to contract cholera from contaminated water. Someone who ingests infected water will start to suffer from severe diarrhoea and dehydration that can be fatal within a few hours without treatment. It's really important to have the cholera vaccination when going abroad to certain countries.

What is the cholera vaccination?

The cholera vaccination prevents cholera from incubating. As cholera is not found commonly in industrialised nations, you will need to be vaccinated if travelling to hot-spot areas. It can be given alongside other vaccinations and is an oral vaccine.

How long before you travel do you need to get the cholera vaccination?

The cholera vaccination is taken in doses (two doses for those older than the age of 6, and three for children between the ages of 2-5). They are assigned at least 1 week apart from one another, so for an adult, you should get your vaccination at least 3 weeks in advance, to allow the second dose time to be absorbed.

How long does the cholera vaccination last in adults?

The cholera vaccination lasts approximately 2 years in adults and children over the age of 6. The vaccine will last 6 months in children between 2-6 years old. Children under the age of 2should not receive the vaccination nor should they travel to at-risk areas.

What countries is cholera in?

Countries that have experienced cholera outbreaks most recently include:

  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Kenya
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Nigeria

How to avoid catching cholera whilst travelling

To avoid catching cholera, you will want to:

  • Get vaccinated
  • Drink only safe water (including ice and water used to prepare food)
  • Wash your hands often with clean water and soap
  • Use bathrooms
  • Do not eat undercooked food

Having comprehensive travel insurance can further protect you should an unlikely infection occur.

When was the last cholera outbreak?

Though cholera still exists today, the last pandemic of the virus occurred in 1961.

If you require any further information please refer to the NHS website.

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