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Cholera - how much of a danger?

The news media have given much attention to the recent cholera epidemic raging in Peru and now spreading into neighboring Colombia. Peru may not be in your immediate travel plans, but if you are thinking of a trip to other parts of the world where cholera is found (including such popular destinations as Kenya or India), you may have been advised to be vaccinated against it--or even considered cancelling your trip. If so, rest assured that neither step is necessary.

Cholera is transmitted through contaminated food and water, and the usual precautions to avoid traveler's diarrhea are sufficient to avoid the disease--in particular drinking only boiled or bottled water and avoiding raw seafood. Vaccination is not required for entry to countries with cholera or for re-entry to the United States, and because it provides only brief and incomplete protection, a cholera vaccine is not recommended for travelers. The risk to travelers who follow the usual tourist itineraries is virtually nil--and even if infection should occur, the disease is easily treated.

For more information about cholera and other diseases, call the international travelers' hotline of the Centers for Disease Control, U.S. Public Health Service, at 404-332-4559. Operators are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
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Title Annotation:precautions advised for travelers
Publication:Medical Update
Date:May 1, 1991
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