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      Cholera

      Latest update: - Authors: Stefanie Bracke, Ula Maniewski

      Cholera is an acute bacterial gastrointestinal infection transmitted through contaminated food or drinks, or through the stool of a sick person.

      The following symptoms may occur 12 hours to five days after infection:

      • very heavy diarrhoea, with stools typically resembling rice water
      • vomiting
      • abdominal cramps

      Usually there is no fever.

      In most people the disease is mild, but some show severe symptoms, characterised by extremely watery bowel movements (litres per day!). This quickly leads to significant dehydration and even death.

      The cornerstone of treatment is timely rehydration via 'oral rehydration solution' (ORS). Severe infections should be treated in a hospital.

      Cholera outbreaks occur mainly among people who lack acces to clean drinkinwater and live in areas where sanitation facilities are scarce, and wastewater is inadequately treated, such as slums and refugee camps. Travellers have an extremely low risk.

      Risk areas

      The disease occurs in sub-Saharan Africa, South and Southeast Asia, Haiti and other low- and middle-income countries.

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      Prevention

      Eating and drinking

      Apply measures for safe eating and drinking.

      Vaccination

      Vaccination against cholera is not required by any country.
      Given the extremely low risk of infection, cholera vaccination is not recommended for travellers.
      The vaccine (Dukoral®) is no longer available in Belgium.

      In case of symptoms

      Seek medical advice if you suffer any symptoms.

      Additional information for doctors

      • Information about cholera for doctors

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