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Do I need to get vaccinated against cholera?

Do I need to get vaccinated against cholera?
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Are you at risk from this potentially fatal bacterial infection?

Cholera causes around 143,000 deaths worldwide. It is a bacterial infection of the small intestine contracted via contaminated food or water.

Most people who get cholera will suffer a mild GI disturbance, or may even have no symptoms at all. But about 25% of those infected will experience diarrhea and sometimes vomiting. This can lead to fluid loss that causes cramps and dehydration.

It can put you out of action for a few days, which means you won’t be able to do the work you’ve travelled to do. If you are asymptomatic, you may infect others with cholera without realizing, and if they are more vulnerable than you, they could get a more serious case.

What vaccines are there against cholera?

Cholera is vaccine preventable. The good news is you don’t need to have a needle for cholera! A course of Dukoral tablets may be recommended for travellers to high-risk areas. These tablets offer 85-90% protection over two years. Read more on our cholera vaccine page.

Who should get vaccinated against cholera?

Travellers most at risk from cholera are those going to places where the infrastructure is under strain – so anyone travelling to work in a disaster zone. Our nurse advisers may recommend that humanitarian and healthcare workers get vaccinated against cholera. Those working in a slum or a refugee camp are particularly at risk.

Can I get a last-minute vaccination against cholera?

Ideally your two doses of Dukoral need to be spaced a week apart, and you need to complete the course a week before you arrive. So, people who might expect to be sent to a disaster zone at short notice may get vaccinated routinely against cholera. But if you do need protection from cholera on short notice, come and see us anyway and we will do our best to help.

What other steps can I take to protect myself from cholera?

As well as getting vaccinated against cholera, you should practise food and water safety. We have travel advice articles about food-borne illnesses and about water-borne diseases that will show you how to support the protection provided by your cholera vaccination. The key advice is to be watchful when eating and drinking.

We’d recommend bringing your own cutlery roll so that you always know how well your utensils have been washed. You may want to look into a personal water purifying system – the Government of Canada has a round-up of the various systems.

The other key piece of advice to protect yourself against food- and water-borne illnesses like cholera is to wash your hands often, particularly after using the toilet and before eating or preparing food. Use handwashing facilities if available, or hand sanitizer is fine if your hands are not visibly dirty.

When you come for your travel health advice appointment, feel free to ask your nurse adviser for tips and ideas on eating and drinking safely on your trip.

How do I make an appointment for travel vaccinations in Calgary?

Canadian Travel Clinics can offer same-day vaccinations at our travel clinics in Calgary. Make an appointment online right now.