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Cholera is an infection that can cause severe diarrhoea and be fatal if left untreated.

It’s not found in the UK, but there’s a very small risk of getting it while travelling in some parts of the world.

Luckily, by practising good hygiene and being mindful of where your water and food has come from it is possible to avoid Cholera. For those in particularly at risk areas, there is a vaccine available, but for the majority of travellers this won’t be necessary.

When travelling you can catch cholera from:

  • Drinking unclean water.
  • Eating food (particularly shellfish) that’s been in unclean water.
  • Eating food that’s been handled by an infected person.

It’s important to remember that the risk of contracting cholera while travelling is very small. It’s primarily found in places without access to a clean water supply or sewage systems, such as parts of Africa and Asia.

How to avoid cholera while travelling


  • Wash your hands with soap and water regularly, especially after using the toilet and before preparing food or eating.
  • Only drink tap water that’s been boiled or bottled water.
  • Brush your teeth using bottled or boiled water.


  • Do not eat uncooked fruit and vegetables (including salads) that you haven’t washed with bottled or boiled water and prepared yourself.
  • Do not eat shellfish and seafood.
  • Do not eat ice cream or have ice in your drinks.

You can get vaccinated against cholera if you're at risk

There’s a vaccine for cholera, but most people don’t need it. The vaccine is given as a drink. For adults, 2 doses (given 1 to 6 weeks apart) can provide protection for up to 2 years. You need to have had both doses at least a week before travelling.

It’s usually only recommended if either:

  • You’re travelling to an area where cholera is common and you’ll be visiting remote places without access to medical care.
  • You’re an aid or disaster relief worker going to an area where a cholera outbreak is likely.

Non-urgent advice: See a doctor if you:

  • Have bloody diarrhoea or bleeding from your bottom.
  • Keep vomiting and are unable to keep down fluid.
  • Have diarrhoea for more than 7 days or vomiting for more than 2 days.

Tell the doctor if you have been in an area where cholera is found in the last few weeks.

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