Prevention of Cholera
For people living and traveling in areas where cholera is prevalent, prevention of cholera involves avoiding contaminated water and food. The manufacture and sale of the only cholera vaccine licensed in the United States has been discontinued; however, two recently developed oral vaccines for the prevention of cholera are licensed and available in some other countries.
In the United States, cholera was prevalent in the 1800s. It has now been virtually eliminated, thanks to modern sewage and water treatment systems. However, as a result of improved transportation, more people from the United States are traveling to parts of Africa, Asia, or Latin America, where epidemic cholera is occurring. For these people, prevention of cholera involves avoiding contaminated food and water.
At this point, a cholera vaccine is not recommended for the prevention of cholera.
Travelers who follow the usual tourist itineraries and observe food safety recommendations while in countries reporting cholera have virtually no risk. Risk increases for those who drink untreated water or eat poorly cooked or raw seafood in disease-endemic (prevalent) areas.
For the prevention of cholera, all travelers who go to areas where cholera has occurred should observe the following recommendations:
- Drink only water that you have boiled, or that you have treated with chlorine or iodine. Other safe beverages include tea and coffee made with boiled water, and carbonated, bottled beverages with no ice.
- Make sure that all vegetables are cooked, and avoid salads.
- Eat only foods that have been thoroughly cooked and are still hot, or fruit that you have peeled yourself.
- Avoid undercooked or raw fish or shellfish, including ceviche (seafood marinated in lime or lemon juice).
- Avoid foods and beverages from street vendors.
- Do not bring perishable seafood back to the United States.
A simple rule of thumb is: "Boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it."