People love to travel for a lot of different reasons, whether it be for relaxation, adventure, or escape. Many of us live for the vacation time we get to take each year, allowing us to escape the mundanity of everyday life to have a truly rejuvenating experience.
There are few things that can put a wrench in your travel plans like experiencing gastrointestinal issues. Can you imagine spending a year planning out your dream vacation only to spend much of your trip in the bathroom?
Dukoral is a drug that is used to help prevent both cholera and the type of traveller's diarrhea that is caused by E. coli. Depending on where you are travelling, taking the medication can be good insurance against getting sick while you're abroad.
What is Dukoral, though, and do you need it for your upcoming trip? Let's take a look at everything you need to know.
What Is Dukoral and Why Do You Need It?
Dukoral is a vaccine that can be taken to help prevent cholera and traveller's diarrhea when you are travelling. Whether or not you will be at risk for developing either of these conditions while you are abroad depends on where you are travelling.
What Is Cholera?
Usually spread through contaminated water, cholera is a disease caused by certain bacteria. When a person has cholera they can experience severe dehydration and diarrhea. If cholera is not treated quickly, it can be fatal.
Cholera is basically nonexistent in industrialized countries due to modern water treatment and sewage systems. However, this disease still exists in Southeast Asia, Africa, and Haiti. While a cholera epidemic can be disastrous for a region, this condition can be treated easily. With an inexpensive and simple rehydration solution, deaths caused by severe dehydration are preventable.
In addition to diarrhea and dehydration, cholera can cause nausea and vomiting, fatigue, irritability, dry mouth, sunken eyes, shriveled and dry skin, low blood pressure, extreme thirst, and irregular heartbeat, or little to no urinating.
What Is Traveler's Diarrhea?
Traveller's diarrhea is the name for when a person who is travelling experiences diarrhea when they are visiting a place that has poor public hygiene. This condition typically occurs within 10 days of visiting the location.
While traveller's diarrhea can be caused by a wide variety of bacteria, parasites, and viruses, it is most commonly caused by bacteria such as E. coli.
Water and food can become infected by bacteria, parasites, and viruses that can cause traveller's diarrhea when people:
- Store food unsafely
- Prepare and handle food unsafely
- Don't wash their hands after using the bathroom
- Don't clean utensils and dish ware safely.
The risk for developing traveller's diarrhea is present when you travel to a country that has poor hygiene and poor public sanitation. Some of the highest risk places tend to be developing countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Central and South America.
While diarrhea is the most common symptom of this condition, individuals can also experience symptoms such as bloating, nausea, vomiting, blood in the stool, abdominal cramps or pain, feeling tired, urgency with their bowel movement, and fever.
How Do You Buy Dukoral?
It's important that you discuss travel to an at-risk area with your doctor before taking Dukoral.
A prescription is not necessary in order to obtain Dukoral to help prevent enterotoxigenic E. coli-diarrhea unless you live in Quebec. Otherwise, your local travel clinic or local pharmacy will have Dukoral you can purchase.
However, if you're taking Dukoral for cholera, you will need to receive a prescription from a doctor or medical professional.
What Form Does Dukoral Come In? How Do You Take Dukoral?
Dukoral is an oral vaccine. It is available in the form of a suspension that is combined with a sachet of effervescent granules. These granules are first dissolved in water and then mixed with the vaccine before orally taking the medicine.
After the medication has been prepared, it needs to be consumed within two hours. You'll want to avoid eating, drinking, or taking any other oral medication for the hour before and after you take each of your doses.
For both adults and children that are six years or older, Dukoral is taken in two doses that are spread apart by six weeks. Children who are between the ages of two and six years old take the medicine in three doses with 1 to 6 weeks in between each dose.
When taking Dukoral, the course should be completed before the potential exposure to cholera by at least one week. In order to receive continuous protection against this condition, is recommended that individuals over the age of six receive a single Dukoral booster dose within two years. For children between the ages of two and six, this booster should be taken within six months.
If an adult hasn't received the booster in two years or a child hasn't received the booster within six months, the full course will have to be repeated.
If you're taking a trip, you might want to learn about trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance. Check out our article on the topic here.
Who Shouldn't Take Dukoral?
This medication is not recommended for use during pregnancy. If you are pregnant and travelling to a country where you're at risk of developing cholera or diarrhea caused by ETEC, you'll want to take to your doctor about the possible risks.
Dukoral is also not recommended for individuals who are suffering from an acute gastrointestinal illness or a fever. If you are experiencing either of these illnesses, you'll want to wait until the illness has passed before taking this medication. If you have a mild illness, such as a cold, however, then you may take the vaccine.
Any individuals that have an allergy to formaldehyde, any ingredient in this medication, or any ingredient in its container should not take this vaccine.
How Does Dukoral Work?
Since Dukoral is a vaccine, it works in the same way that other vaccines do. This is by essentially teaching the body's immune system how it can protect itself from a disease.
This medication contains small amounts of cholera bacteria that has been inactivated as well as a part of the cholera toxin. The body creates antibodies against the bacteria and the toxin which allows the immune system to produce these antibodies is essentially what fights off the bacteria should it enter your body.
The way that these antibodies can help protect you from cholera is by preventing both the toxins in the bacteria from attaching to the walls of your digestive system and approaching or entering the cells of your body.
How Long Does Dukoral Last?
The protection against cholera and enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) begins roughly one week after you've taken your last dose.
You'll be protected for about three months from diarrhea caused by ETEC. You will be able to renew your protection for another three months with a single dose if you've taken Dukoral in the last three months to five years. If you are going to take this single dose, you should make sure that you take it at least one week before you go on your travels.
For adults and children that are at least six years old, the protection against cholera lasts for about two years. For children between the ages of two and six years old, the protection lasts for about six months.
Adults and children over the age of six can take one booster dose in order to renew protection against cholera if they've received the last dose between two and five years previously. If your child between the ages of two and six has had a course of Dukoral between six months and five years ago, they will be able to take one Dukoral booster dose to renew protection against cholera.
Are There Side Effects to Taking Dukoral?
There are some common side effects to taking this medication. It is possible to have an allergic reaction to Dukoral. Some people might experience diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea, or feeling feverish.
Rarely, serious side effects can occur including shortness of breath and dehydration. If you are experiencing any of these side effects, it's important that you see a doctor or a healthcare professional.
Are There Any Other Warnings or Precautions For Dukoral?
You always want to talk to your doctor before you start taking any medication. You can let your doctor know about:
- Other medications you are taking
- Any allergies or medical conditions you might have
- Whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding
- If there are other significant pieces of information regarding your health
Your doctor can take this information and determine if it should affect how you take this medication if at all.
Can Dukoral Interact With Other Medications?
Like many medications, Dukoral can interact with certain other drugs.
Dukoral shouldn't be taken within 8 hours of taking an encapsulated oral typhoid vaccine. It can also negatively interact with immunosuppressants.
If you are taking other medications or vaccines, make sure that you don't take them within one hour of taking the Dukoral vaccine.
You'll want to let your doctor or health care provider know what medications you are taking. They will tell you whether you should make changes to your medications or how to safely proceed.
Just because two medications interact does not necessarily mean that you have to stop taking them. This is why it's important to consult your doctor, as they will be able to advise you.
There might be more types of medication that Dukoral can interact with that we haven't listed here. When you are discussing taking Dukoral with your doctor, you'll want to mention all of the medications you take, including prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal or nutritional supplements. You'll also want to let your prescriber know if you drink caffeine, smoke cigarettes, or use street drugs.
Should I Get Dukoral For My Trip?
Whether or not you should get Dukoral in Canada before travelling largely depends on your specific circumstances.
The first thing you'll want to look at is the details of your trip. If you are going to an all-inclusive resort for one week and you don't plan on leaving the resort, you might not be at nearly as high a risk as someone who is backpacking in Southeast Asia for a few months. While this doesn't necessarily mean that you shouldn't take Dukoral if you're going to an all-inclusive resort, it's just important to understand where and how your risks are higher.
Another thing that you will want to consider is your past history. Have you ever had gastrointestinal troubles on previous trips that you had? If you are prone to having stomach issues, then it might make sense for you to seriously consider taking Dukoral before travelling.
Another question you'll want to ask yourself is how important it is to you to decrease the risk of getting sick. For example, are you travelling for work and it's important that you can stay focused and be in your best health? If so, you'll probably want to take Dukoral.
Lastly, you'll want to think about your budget. For the initial two doses, the Dukoral cost in Ontario is $90. For the single booster dose, it costs $50. If you bring your drug plan information with you when you go to get the vaccines, you can find out how much of your Dukoral doses your drug plan will pay for.
Are you looking to get away but can't put your job on hold just yet? Take a look at this article on planning the perfect workation.
Is It Time For You to Find Affordable Health Insurance in Canada?
Getting sick from cholera or traveller's diarrhea can be seriously disruptive to your travel plans and in some cases quite dangerous. Taking Dukoral can help to prevent the occurrence of these issues, allowing you to carry on with your trip as planned.
When you have health insurance, it can help to ensure that you and your family are not put under financial stress if someone you love experiences a medical emergency or faces health issues. It can also help out when you are buying preventative vaccines or other medications like Dukoral.
Is it time for you to find affordable health insurance in Canada? At Insurdinary, we offer free quotes to help you find the right health and dental insurance for you and your family.