A cholera outbreak in Ghana, which has affected thousands of people to date, has caused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue an advisory for travelers to the West African country.

Map of Ghana/CIA

According to UNICEF, more than 15,400 cases and 126 deaths from cholera have been reported in Ghana as of September 8, 2014. Many cases have been in the Greater Accra region, including in the districts of Accra Metro and La-Dadekotopon.

CDC recommends that travelers to Ghana protect themselves from cholera by following food and water precautions.

Cholera, caused by  the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, is an acute bacterial intestinal disease characterized by sudden onset, profuse watery stools (given the appearance as rice water stools because of flecks of mucus in water) due to a very potent enterotoxin. The enterotoxin leads to an extreme loss of fluid and electrolytes in the production of diarrhea. It has been noted that an untreated patient can lose his bodyweight in fluids in hours resulting in shock and death.

The bacteria are acquired through ingestion of contaminated water or food through a number of mechanisms. Water is usually contaminated by the feces of infected individuals. Drinking water can be contaminated at the source, during transport or during storage at home. Food can get contaminated by soiled hands, during preparation or while eating.

Beverages and ice prepared with contaminated water and fruits and vegetables washed with this water are other examples. Some outbreaks are linked to raw or undercooked seafood. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page