Cholera

Prevention and control of cholera outbreaks: WHO policy and recommendations


Travel and trade

Today, no country requires proof of cholera vaccination as a condition for entry and the International Certificate of Vaccination no longer provides a specific space for recording cholera vaccinations. In 1973, the World Health Assembly deleted from the International Health Regulations the requirement for presentation of a cholera vaccination certificate.

Past experience clearly showed that quarantine measures and embargoes on movements of people and goods - especially food products - are unnecessary. At present, WHO has no information that food commercially imported from affected countries has been implicated in outbreaks of cholera in importing countries. The isolated cases of cholera that have been related to imported food have been associated with food which had been in the possession of individual travellers. Therefore, it may be concluded that food produced under good manufacturing practices poses only a negligible risk for cholera transmission. Consequently, WHO believes that food import restrictions, based on the sole fact that cholera is epidemic or endemic in a country, are not justified. However, countries can confiscate any perishable unprocessed foods carried by travellers.

Key messages

  • Imposing travel and trade restrictions have proven inefficient and risk to divert useful resources.
  • WHO has no information that food commercially imported from affected countries has ever been implicated in outbreaks of cholera in importing countries.
  • Countries have the right to confiscate any perishable and unprocessed food carried by travellers crossing borders.
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