Travel in a time of cholera

Another bit of authentic excitement for us tourists: northern Vietnam is having a cholera outbreak. The hotel is sliding elaborate warnings under our doors about twice a day:

Cholera is an intestinal infection. The bacterium is spread through food or water that has been contimated by the feces of an infected person. One to five days after infection, patients develop severe, painless, watery diarrhea, often called "rice-water" stools. Vomiting also occurs in most patients.

Usually, the symptoms are relatively mild and respond to oral rehydration. Severe cases of cholera (10-20%) can cause life-threatening dehydration. . .

All travellers to Vietnam should pay strict attention to hygeine and be vigilant in their choice of food and water.

Drink only boiled or bottled water, water that has been treated with chlorine or iodine, or carbonated beverages.

Aboid ice, as it may have been made with unsafe water.

Choose food that has been thoroughly cooked while fresh and is served hot.

Avoid street vendors, pre-peeled fruit or salad, fish and shellfish.

I was halfway through my salad at lunch today when I remembered this injunction. I kept eating on the theory that if I'd gotten cholera, I already had it, so I might as well enjoy it.

The food in Vietnam, incidentally, has the highest average quality of any place I've ever travelled*. Even the rubber chicken meals at the press club are actually worth eating.

*Some friends may recall my rhapsodies over Vienna, but this does not count. Since I am no longer able, for various reasons, to spend four solid days eating nothing but pastry, the comparison is not fair.