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Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

Outbreaks of Cholera continue in Yemen, Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania

22 May 2017

Authorities and NGOs in all affected countries are continuing their efforts to treat affected patients and reduce transmission of infection.

Yemen: By 14 May 2017, authorities in Yemen had reported 11 046 cases, including 124 deaths. Among these cases, 208 were confirmed. The outbreak is country-wide, with cases reported from 18 out of 21 governorates. Amanat Al-Asimah, Sana’a, Amran, Hajjah, Ibb, Al-Mahweet, Dhamar, Al-Bayda, Al-Dhale’a, Taiz, Abyan, Al-Hudaydah, Raymah, Aden and Sa’adah.

In emphasizing the scale of the outbreak, Save the Children later stated on 22 May that there are more than 1 000 suspected cases per day and that at least 242 have died in the current outbreak.

Somalia: In the first four months of 2017, Somalia reported 36 066 suspected cholera cases, including 697 deaths Southern regions (Bay, Bakol and Lower Shabelle, Middle Juba and Gedo) are most affected by the current outbreak.

Ethiopia: As of 7 May 2017, Ethiopia reported 32 689 acute watery diarrhoea cases, including 776 deaths. In April, 5723 cases were reported. The Ethiopian Somali Regional State is is particularly affected, with 91% of reported cases and 99% of reported deaths.

Kenya: Health authorities reported 303 cases of cholera including 5 deaths between January and 15 May 2017. A further 5 cases have been reported in Nairobi in recent days. This is of considerable local concern, although cholera incidence remains extremely low in the city.

Tanzania: In May 2017, Tanzania has reported 11 cases of cholera in Dar es Salaam. In April 2017, 2 cases were reported in Zanzibar. The Tanzanian mainland has seen 25 115 cases including 390 deaths between 15 August 2015 and 23 March 2017. While cases appear to be fewer in number in Zanzibar this year there were 4 330 cases, including 68 deaths between 19 September 2015 and 24 July 2016.

Advice to Travellers

Prevention is focused on ensuring safe water and food, particularly in countries where cholera is more common or where outbreaks occur (see individual country record). Food and drink to be wary of include untreated water, ice, shellfish, salads, unwashed fruit and vegetables.

Good personal hygiene is essential. Individuals should ensure that they wash their hands frequently, prior to eating and after visiting the bathroom.

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

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

For further information see Cholera