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Cholera
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Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

Cholera

Cholera is caused by infection with a bacteria, Vibrio cholerae, that produces a toxin. The cholera bacterium is usually found in water or food sources that have been contaminated by feces (poop) from a person infected with cholera. Cholera is most likely to be found and spread in places with inadequate water treatment, poor sanitation, and inadequate hygiene.
The most common symptom of cholera is a large amount of watery diarrhea, often described as "rice-water stool" because it can have a pale, milky appearance. It can also be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Cholera can be severe and rapidly fatal without treatment (replacement of water lost by diarrhea).
Cholera occurs in approximately 50 countries, primarily in Africa and South and Southeast Asia. Globally, cholera results in an estimated 2.9 million cases of disease and 95,000 deaths each year.
Cholera is rare in the United States. Most U.S. cases occur among travelers to countries where cholera is present.
An oral cholera vaccine (Vaxchora, PaxVax Corporation) is available in the United States, and is recommended by CDC for adults traveling to areas with active cholera transmission (most people do not travel to areas of active cholera transmission). The vaccine prevents severe diarrhea caused by the most common type of cholera bacteria.
Avoiding unsafe food and water can also prevent many cholera infections. Travelers who consistently observe safe food, water, sanitation, and handwashing recommendations while in countries affected by cholera have almost no risk of acquiring cholera. See the CDC website for information about food and water precautions.
No country or territory currently requires vaccination against cholera as a condition for entry.
Cholera Vaccine Schedule
A single dose of oral cholera vaccine is recommended for adult travelers (18 through 64 years of age) from the United States to an area of active cholera transmission. The vaccine reduces the chance of severe diarrhea in people by 90% at 10 days after vaccination and by 80% at 3 months after vaccination. The safety and effectiveness of oral cholera vaccine in pregnant or breastfeeding women is not yet known, and it is also not known how long protection lasts beyond 3 to 6 months after getting the vaccine. There is no recommendation for a booster dose at this time. Side effects from the vaccine are uncommon and may include tiredness, headache, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, lack of appetite, and diarrhea. The vaccine is not recommended for children younger than 18 years or adults age 65 years or older.
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Trusted Websites
Cholera
Cholera
Introduction, fact sheet, Q&As, and vaccination information from CDC
Destinations
Destinations
Select a destination from the list and get travel health information for that location, including vaccination requirements
A Look at Each Vaccine: Cholera Vaccine
A Look at Each Vaccine: Cholera Vaccine
Questions and answers about the disease and vaccines from Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)
Global Travel Health Directory
Global Travel Health Directory
Provides information on travel clinic locations in your area and more from the International Society of Travel Medicine
View all diseases and vaccines
Video Library
Video: Way to Go - Passport to Health
Way to Go - Passport to Health: Health experts suggest that you take several key steps to be protected against injury or illness when travelling to developing nations. This includes packing a health kit, bringing medications, and getting immunizations for safe and healthy travel.
>> view all videos
Personal Testimonies
Stories of suffering and loss
No Cholera stories currently available
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More Cholera Information
International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis
International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis  (WHO)
Download certificate for free from the WHO website
Travelers' Health Website: Cholera
Travelers' Health Website: Cholera (CDC)
Chapter from CDC's Yellow Book
 
This page was updated on October 9, 2019.
This page was reviewed on October 9, 2019.
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The Immunization Action Coalition (IAC), a non-profit organization, works to increase immunization rates and prevent disease by creating and distributing educational materials for health professionals and the public that enhance delivery of safe and effective immunization services. IAC also facilitates communication about the safety, efficacy, and use of vaccines within the broad immunization community of patients, parents, healthcare organizations, and government health agencies.