CDC Watch - Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions

Cholera Outbreak Alert Issued for the Republic of Yemen

Yemen Travel Alert issued by the CDC
yemeni beach
Middle East (Vax Before Travel)

In response to an ongoing Cholera outbreak in the Republic of Yemen, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Level 1 Travel Alert on August 6, 2019.

This CDC Travel Alert says more than 1.8 million cholera cases and over 3,500 deaths have been reported in Yemen from October 2016 to June 2019.

Yemeni public health officials are responding to this situation by establishing treatment facilities, training healthcare workers, providing medical supplies, purifying water, and deploying staff trained to detect and respond to cases quickly.

Cholera is an acute, diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine with the toxigenic bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The infection is often mild or without symptoms, but can sometimes be severe.

Without treatment, severe cholera cases can become fatal within hours, says the CDC.

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

Furthermore, the Vaxchora cholera vaccine prevents diarrhea caused by the most common type of cholera bacteria. This vaccine is available in the United States and is recommended for adults traveling to areas with active cholera transmission, such as Yemen.

Avoiding unsafe food and water even after cholera vaccination will also help prevent cholera and many other diarrheal infections. 

Travelers should discuss the following questions with a healthcare provider when considering the Vaxchora vaccine:

  • How common is cholera where I am going?
  • How common is cholera in travelers to this area?
  • What would put me at risk for cholera?
  • Will I be able to receive rapid treatment (if needed) at my destination?

Regarding additional health risks when visiting Yemen, the CDC suggested on June 18, 2019, that visitors ensure they are current with certain vaccines, such as Routine Vaccines and the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.

Additionally, the CDC says cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) have been identified in multiple countries in the Arabian Peninsula, including in travelers to the region.

Furthermore, Yemen is also included in the CDC’s Global Measles Outbreak Notice, issued on June 10, 2019.

And regarding safety notices, the US Department of State, Canada, and the UK governments have issued Level 4 Travel Advisories regarding the ongoing civil unrest in Yemen. These Advisories say ‘Do not travel to Yemen due to terrorism, civil unrest, health risks, kidnapping, and armed conflict.’

Canada says ‘the security situation has deteriorated significantly and foreigners are at extreme risk. Commercial means to exit the country are limited to departures from Aden and Seiyun. If you are currently in Yemen, seek safe shelter and remain there unless you can identify safe means of exit.’

And, the United Nations reported in 2019 that Yemen is the country with the most people in need of humanitarian aid in the world, with about 24 million. 

Pre-departure vaccination services, related travel medications, and counseling appointments can be scheduled with a local pharmacy by visiting Vax-Before-Travel.

And, vaccine financial support programs can be found at Vaccine Discounts.

Our Trust Standards: Medical Advisory Committee

Article by
Dani Reiter