The Travel Health and Vaccine Specialists

Health Alert


Cholera in Africa and Western Asia (Yemen)

Updated September 5, 2018

Updated: August 30, 2018

Malawi was removed from the list of countries experiencing an outbreak of cholera.
Algeria was added to the list of countries experiencing an outbreak of cholera.
Original publication date: September 1, 2016

About cholera
Cholera is an acute diarrheal infection caused by ingesting food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Cholera causes watery diarrhea and can quickly lead to severe dehydration. In serious cases it can lead to death if left untreated.

Cholera is endemic in many countries around the world. Every year there are between 1.3 to 4 million cases of cholera, with between 20 000 to 140 000 deaths. Travellers to tourist areas that practise safe food and water precautions and good hand hygiene are at low risk.

Cholera outbreaks
The World Health Organization has confirmed outbreaks of cholera in the following countries in Africa and Western Asia:

Democratic Republic of Congo
Protect yourself from cholera
Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic at least 6 weeks before you travel.

Find out if there is a risk of cholera before travelling

See Travel advice and advisories by country
Select your destination and click “Go!”
Click on the Health tab
Click on the Food/Water tab
Eat and drink safely

Always take precautions with food and water to avoid getting sick.
Only eat foods that are well cooked and served hot.
Drink water that has been boiled, disinfected or is in a commercially sealed bottle.
Practise good hand hygiene

Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Do this as often as possible, including before eating or preparing food and after using the bathroom or changing diapers.
Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Always keep a bottle of hand sanitizer with you when you travel.
Consider vaccination

Higher risk travellers may benefit from vaccination and should consult with a health care professional to discuss this option. Travellers at higher risk for cholera include:
travellers visiting areas with limited access to clean water, who do not follow proper hand hygiene precautions, or eat raw or poorly cooked food; and
aid or humanitarian workers.
If you experience severe diarrhea and/or vomiting while travelling or after you return to Canada:

Seek medical attention immediately.
Tell a health care professional where you have been travelling or living.
Drink fluids and use oral rehydration solutions to prevent dehydration.
Infants, young children, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions are at greatest risk of dehydration.
If you notice symptoms of cholera during the flight, tell the flight attendant before you land or the border services officer as you enter the country. They will notify a quarantine officer who will assess your symptoms.