Cholera outbreaks in Africa

01 February 2022

Article: 56/403

On 16 January 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued an update on active cholera outbreaks in seven African countries. Outbreaks have been reported in Benin, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Niger, Nigeria and Togo, with a total of 126,050 cases and 3,996 deaths across these countries, the majority being in Nigeria.

Advice for travellers

Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by ingestion of faecally contaminated food or water, and occasionally foodstuffs such as shellfish. Severe cholera is rare in travellers, and mild cases may present as travellers’ diarrhoea.

Travellers are advised to only consume safe food and water and practice effective hand hygiene.

A vaccine is available to protect against cholera, but as the risk to most travellers is very low, it is only recommended for:  

  • volunteers, aid workers and medical personnel in disaster relief situations where cholera outbreaks are likely  
  • those travelling to work in slums or refugee camps, areas affected by natural disasters, or countries experiencing cholera outbreaks and where care with food and water is difficult or not possible

Further information relating to cholera can be found on the TRAVAX (for health professionals) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.

Source: TRAVAX, 24 January 2022