If you’re planning a trip to the Dominican Republic and are checking the news, it is pretty certain you are seeing quite a bit about the cholera problem in Haiti. Reasonably, you might be concerned with how this should affect your vacation plans, maybe even wondering if it might be best to cancel them.

First what is Cholera? Cholera is an intestinal infection that brings on a watery diarrhea, stomach pains and often vomiting. Not a pleasant way to spend your vacation.

How is it spread? For the most part by drinking infected water or eating infected food. It’s stated that “Cholera is rarely spread directly from person to person” (source Wikipedia Cholera).

Can I avoid it? First, at this point there is not a wide spread infection of Cholera in the Dominican Republic, but the chance of encountering it likely increases as you near the Haiti boarder. While drinking water and sanitation in the DR is not up to the specification of larger countries, there is usually adequate water and adequate sanitation, especially in the larger cities and tourist areas.

How do I protect myself? I have given a number of tips on the types of food that is safer here, what water to drink and other food safety tips (check our Drinking water post). For the most part following these same tips should provide sufficient protection. In addition, although they say it is rarely spread by human contact, having a bottle of that alcohol sanitizing hand cleaner available and using it when necessary will provide additional protection against this as well as any other diseases that you might encounter here (with the exception of the mosquito problems which are handled by repellant).

Should you vacation in the DR? Well, that one is up to you, however I live here with very little concern about my family being infected by cholera or any other major disease, and I know and am friends with several Haitians in the area who travel back home regularly. I believe taking reasonable precautions is necessary, but sufficient to ensure our continual health in this country.

More Information If you would like more compete information on health precautions while traveling in the DR this site seems to be the most complete. http://www.mdtravelhealth.com/destinations/mamerica_carib/dominican_republic.php. The site also includes informations on any shots you might want to take before your trip to the Dominican Republic to boost your immunity to different diseases.

Dengue and Malaria

These are two other diseases that can be found in the Dominican Republic. Dengue continues to be an ongoing problem. There is no preventative treatment that can be taken for dengue. The main preventative treatment is to not get bitten by mosquitoes, so, bringing mosquito repellent is pretty important. This is actually more true when you are in the denser populated areas than when you are in the Campos. One location that seems to frequently have cases of Dengue is Santiago. For more information on Dengue and Malaria you can visit Travel.State.Gov and more specific information see the articles from the Center For Disease Control (CDC) on Dengue and Malaria