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Cholera in Cuba, Dominican Republic and Haiti

Updated: May 31, 2016

Travel Health Notice

CholeraExternal link is an acute intestinal infection caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. People usually become infected from drinking or eating contaminated water or food. CholeraExternal link is associated with watery diarrhea and rapid dehydration, which can be life-threatening.

Since October 2010, Haiti and the Dominican Republic have been experiencing a cholera epidemic. Haiti has had over 750,000 cases of cholera and over 9,000 related deaths. The Dominican Republic has had over 33,000 suspected cases and close to 500 related deaths. To date in 2016, Haiti has had 7,000 suspected cases reported and the Dominican Republic has had over 60 suspected cases, a decrease when compared to the same time period in 2015.

In August 2015, isolated cases of cholera were reported in Cuba in the province of Holguín. No new cholera cases have been reported in 2016 to date.

Travellers should note that there may be an increase in the number of cases during seasonal heavy rainfall which occurs during the months of May to July and September to October.

The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends practising safe food and water precautionsExternal link while in Cuba, Dominican Republic or Haiti. 

Recommendations

Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.

  1. Practise safe food and water precautionsExternal link
  2. Consider getting vaccinated
    • Travellers to usual tourist areas that practise safe food and water precautions and good hand hygieneExternal link are at low risk. Travellers visiting areas with limited access to clean water, that do not follow proper hand hygiene precautions, or eat raw or poorly cooked food are at higher risk for cholera. Higher risk travellers may benefit from vaccination and should consult with a health care provider to discuss this option.
  3. If you develop severe diarrhea and/or vomiting while travelling or after you return to Canada
    • Seek medical attention immediately and tell your health care provider where you have been travelling or living.
    • Drink fluids and use oral rehydration saltsExternal link to prevent dehydration.
      • Infants, young children and the elderly and those with underlying health conditions are at greatest risk of dehydration.
    • Tell a flight attendant or the border services officer if you are ill while returning to Canada. They will notify a quarantine officer who can assess the symptoms and refer you for medical care.