Health Information

Cholera

What is cholera?

Cholera is an acute, infectious disease caused by the consumption of water or food contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.

Cholera is a public health concern in developing countries all over the world, especially in Africa, south Asia, and Latin America. Cases among travelers to and from developed countries are rare; however, some outbreaks in the United States have been caused by contaminated seafood brought into the country by travelers.

What causes cholera?

Vibrio cholerae is usually found in impure water supplies because of the unsanitary disposal of excrement. Person-to-person transmission is rare. It is usually transmitted by consuming contaminated food or water from:
  • municipal water supplies
  • ice made from municipal water
  • foods and beverages bought from street vendors
  • vegetables irrigated with fresh sewage
  • raw or inadequately cooked fish and seafood taken from sewage-polluted waters
Treatment for cholera:

For diarrhea that is worse than normal, it is best for the traveler to consult a physician rather than try self-medication. Seek medical help if diarrhea becomes severe and watery, or if vomiting occurs.
Specific treatment for cholera will be determined by your physician based on:
  • your overall health and medical history
  • extent of the disease
  • your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the disease
  • your opinion or preference