The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel notice today for the central African country of Chad because of a cholera outbreak that started in mid-August.

Chad map/onestopmap
Chad map/onestopmap

The Ministry of Health of Chad has reported a cholera outbreak in Koukou and Goz Beida Districts in Sila Region and Am Timan District in Salamat Region in the southeast of the country.

Since the onset of the outbreak on 14 August 2017, a total of 445 cases including 56 deaths (case fatality rate 12.6%) were reported, as of 25 September 2017.

Of seven specimens collected from Koukou Health District in Sila Region and cultured at the national laboratory, six were positive for Vibrio cholerae serogroup O1, serotype Ogawa. Testing of environmental samples also detected Vibrio and Trichomonas species in six water samples collected from Marena, a remote village within Koukou Health District.

Because it is spread through contaminated food and water, cholera is easily prevented by sticking to safe eating and drinking habits and regularly washing hands.

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A newly licensed cholera vaccine (Vaxchora, PaxVax Corporation) prevents severe diarrhea caused by the most common type of cholera bacteria. This vaccine is available in the United States, and CDC recommends it for adults traveling to Koukou, Goz Beida, or Am Timan Districts. Avoiding unsafe food and water even after cholera vaccination will also help prevent cholera and many other diarrheal infections.

Cholera is a disease spread by drinking water or eating food contaminated with cholera bacteria. Severe cholera is characterized by large amounts of watery diarrhea, often described as “rice-water stool” because it can have a pale, milky appearance. It can also be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. If untreated, the loss of fluid can be deadly. But simple treatment, including replacing lost body fluids, can lower the risk of death to less than 1%.

LISTEN: Cholera: The disease, the Yemen crisis and the vaccine