Cholera Prevention Tips when Traveling to Haiti

The 2010 earthquake that demolished Haiti's infrastructure robbed the poorest Haitians of what little they had, homes that were nothing more than hovels. Thrown into the streets of Port-au-Prince with no access to toilets, sanitation virtually did not exist. Having no clean potable water added to the misery.

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Nine months following the January earthquake, in October 2010, a cholera epidemic took hold of Port-au-Prince, largely affecting those living in tent cities. These cities are still filled today with earthquake survivors, and cholera cases have increased noticeably since early 2012.

The United States Department of State has kept a travel advisory in place since the earthquake, cautioning American citizens to stay away from Haiti. With the exception of necessary business travel or humanitarian work, Americans are advised not to visit Haiti.
But others claim the majority of travelers to Haiti are not likely to contract cholera. However, they recommend a cholera prevention kit as a precautionary measure:

• an antibiotic prescribed by a doctor.
• water purification tablets.
• oral rehydration salts.

Other precautions visitors to Haiti can take to reduce the potential for contracting cholera include:

• consume only just-cooked and steaming hot food.
• do not consume drinks watered-down with non-potable water.
• do not consume -rare or medium-rare meat and fish.
• do not consume uncooked fruits and vegetables.
• drink only beverages securely packaged or carbonated.

Travelers should follow the steps recommended for prevention of cholera whenever they can. In some instances, such as eating out, travelers run a risk of improper food hygiene.

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