What is Cholera?
Cholera is an infectious disease caused by Vibrio Cholerae. In some people, they may not have any symptoms. However in some people, it can cause vomiting and diarrhea leading to severe dehydration and possible death.
Cholera can be contracted by consumption of contaminated water and food especially infected shellfish. Spread from person to person can occur also.
Cholera still occur in parts of Africa, India and South America. With proper food handling, the risk of contracting cholera is still low.
Prevention is the way to go
Cholera vaccine is not really necessary as prevention is the main stay to prevent from contracting cholera. Prevention involves proper personal, water and food hygiene. This is especially important in developing countries where sanitation is poor. Do not drink any untreated water and be very careful of what you eat.
So long as there is proper food and water hygiene, cholera vaccine is seldom needed. Unless you are an AID worker travelling to remote country where medical attention is hard to come by or if cholera is widespread over there.
Prevention with proper personal, food and water hygiene is the mainstay.
A Cholera oral vaccine called Dukoral is available. You should not consume any food or drink one hour before and after the oral vaccine. The vaccine comes in sachet form whereby you dissolve the content in water and consume it.
It is best to complete the full vaccination one week before travelling to cholera area. It is not recommended for children below 2 years old as the efficacy is unknown.
For children 2-6 years old: 3 doses spaced one week apart of each other no later than 6 weeks apart. A booster 6 months later if there is continued risk of cholera.
For children above 6 years old and adults: 2 doses space one week apart no later than 6 weeks. A booster two years later to maintain protection.
If the doses are taken more than 6 weeks apart, then the vaccination need to be restarted all over again.
Do note that the vaccine does not convey full protection as it does not cover all strains of cholera.
Contraindications to cholera vaccine
Those who have anaphylactic allergy reaction to the ingredients of vaccine such as formaldehyde should not take the vaccine.
There is no data on the safety of cholera vaccine for pregnant and lactating women hence it should not be given to this group of patients.
Possible side effects
1 in 100 people may have possible minor side effects like abdomen pain , nausea and diarrhea. These symptoms only last for a short period of time and can be treated symptomatically. Severe reaction is rare unless you have allergy to the vaccine.