Cholera is a form of bacterial disease that can cause severe dehydration and diarrhea. If left untreated, cholera can become fatal within a few hours, even in healthy people.
Modern sewage systems have virtually eliminated cholera in industrialized and growing countries. Still, they do exist in Southeast Asia, Haiti, and Africa. The cholera epidemic risks when war, poverty, or natural disasters push people to live without adequate sanitation.
You can develop cholera from:
- Consuming unclear water
- Eating food that was in direct contact with unclear water
- Eating food that a cholera-infected person has handled
- Contaminated food that can grow cholera bacteria
How to avoid cholera while traveling?
- Wash your hands often using water and soap, especially after you come out of the toilet and before eating or preparing food
- Drink only boiled or bottled water
- Brush your teeth with only boiled or bottled water
- Don’t consume uncooked vegetables or fruits (including salads) that you didn’t wash with boiled or bottled water, and prepare yourself
- Don’t eat any shellfish or seafood
- Don’t add ice to your drinks or eat ice cream
There is a vaccine for cholera, and it is mainly recommended if:
- You are traveling where cholera is more common, and you will be visiting
- You are a disaster relief worker going to a place that has a cholera outbreak
Consult a doctor if
If you have been in a place where there is cholera likely to be and you experienced:
- Vomiting and severe watery diarrhea
- Symptoms of dehydration, like feeling thirsty or strong-smelling and dark yellow urine
Make sure you inform your doctor where you have been in the last few weeks and that you might need treatments to stop severe dehydration symptoms.
Reviewed by – Dr. Priyanka, MBBS MD Microbiology
Page last reviewed: 16 JULY 2022