by Michelle Badash, MS
Cholera is a bacterial infection.
Certain bacteria cause cholera. They grow and release a toxin in the small bowel. You get it when you drink water or eat food that had contact with infected human stool.
Cholera is common in places that don’t have proper sewage treatment. Outbreaks still happen around the world.
Cholera is more common in children aged 2-5 years. Your risk may be higher if you:
Some people don’t have symptoms. If they do appear, they may cause:
Diarrhea causes rapid fluid loss. Without care, cholera can lead to shock or death.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms, and health and travel history. They may suspect cholera based on these facts and a physical exam. If needed, stool tests will confirm a diagnosis.
The goal of care is to replace lost fluids. Rehydration solutions are available as an IV or by mouth. Antibiotics fight the infection and help you get healthy faster.
Adults aged 18-64 years can get a vaccine. You may need it before you travel to places where cholera is common. If you don’t get the vaccine before you leave, you may have to take it when you arrive.
Also, when traveling to these places:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
World Health Organization
Public Health Agency of Canada
Cholera. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/cholera/general/index.html. Updated May 11, 2018. Accessed May 23, 2018.
Cholera. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115474/Cholera . Updated April 26, 2018. Accessed May 23, 2018.
Cholera. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/infectious-diseases/gram-negative-bacilli/cholera. Updated April 2018. Accessed May 23, 2018.
Cholera. World Health Organization website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated February 1, 2018. Accessed May 23, 2018.
Farmer P, Almazor CP, Bahnsen ET, et al. Meeting cholera's challenge to Haiti and the world: A joint statement on cholera prevention and care. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2011;5(5):e1145.
Harris JB, Khan AI, LaRocque RC, et al. Blood group, immunity, and risk of infection with vibrio cholerae in an area of endemity. Infect Immun. 2005;73(11):7422-7427.
Ryan ET. The cholera pandemic, still with us after half a century: Time to rethink. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2011;5(1):e1003.
Last reviewed May 2018 by David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 5/23/2018
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.