The Travel Health and Vaccine Specialists

Health Alert


Cholera in Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo

Updated June 6, 2016

Released: May 31, 2016

Travel Health Notice

Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. People usually become infected from drinking or eating contaminated water or food. It is associated with watery diarrhea and rapid dehydration, which can be life-threatening.

In 2015, the Ministry of Health of the United Republic of Tanzania (including Zanzibar) and the Democratic Republic of Congo reported an ongoing outbreak of cholera.

As of April 2016, Tanzania has reported over 24 000 cases, including over 370 deaths.

Since the beginning of 2015, the Democratic Republic of Congo has reported almost 20,000 cases of cholera.  Although the overall trend is decreasing, there are still areas reporting a high number of cases.

For the latest updates on the total number of cases and deaths by affected region, please visit the World Health Organization’s website.External link

The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends practising safe food and water precautions while in Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.


Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.

  1. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  2. Consider getting vaccinated
    • Travellers to usual tourist areas that practise safe food and water precautions and good hand hygieneExternal link are at low risk. Travellers visiting areas with limited access to clean water, that do not follow proper hand hygiene precautions, or eat raw or poorly cooked food are at higher risk for cholera. Higher risk travellers may benefit from vaccination and should consult with a health care provider to discuss this option.
  3. If you develop severe diarrhea and/or vomiting while travelling or after you return to Canada
    • Seek medical attention immediately.
    • Drink fluids and use oral rehydration saltsExternal link to prevent dehydration.
      • Infants, young children and the elderly and those with underlying health conditions are at greatest risk of dehydration.
    • Tell a flight attendant or the border services officer if you are ill while returning to Canada. They will notify a quarantine officer who can assess the symptoms and refer you for medical care.