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Clinical Update
Advice about Cholera for Travelers Arriving in the United States from Haiti

There is an outbreak in Haiti of a disease called cholera. Cholera is an infection that can cause severe diarrhea and can result in life-threatening loss of fluids from the body (dehydration). Without proper care, a person can die from this disease.

People most often get cholera by drinking water or eating food that has cholera germs in it. Water can be contaminated with the feces of a person sick with cholera. Food can be contaminated by water that has cholera germs in it or if prepared or handled by a person sick with cholera.

Travelers Returning from Haiti

If you have watery diarrhea within five days of returning from Haiti, seek medical care right away.  Replacing the water and salt lost from your body (rehydration) is the most important part of cholera treatment. Do not travel again until you are well.

Cholera Illness

  • Cholera causes watery diarrhea which may be severe.
  • Severe diarrhea causes massive loss of fluids from the body (dehydration) and shock.
  • Cholera patients often have vomiting.
  • Without treatment, a person can die within hours.

Cholera Treatment

  • If you think you have cholera, get medical care right away.
  • Infants, young children, elderly people and people with underlying health conditions are at highest risk for dehydration.
  • Some of the warning signs of dehydration are dry mouth, decreased urine, and (in infants) decreased tears.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking lots of fluids, preferably oral rehydration solutions (such as CeraLyte®, Enfalyte®, or Rehydralyte®). Sports drinks, Pedialyte®, sodas, juices or plain water are not sufficient for oral rehydration with severe diarrhea.
  • Many people will recover by drinking oral rehydration solutions.
  • People who have lost large quantities of fluids need to see a doctor or nurse immediately. Medications that fight the cholera germs (antibiotics) can help you get better more quickly and may be part of your treatment, but staying hydrated is most important.

For More Information

Contact CDC 24 Hours/Every Day
Phone: 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636)
TTY: (888) 232-6348
CDC’s website on the Haiti cholera outbreak: