Cholera Transmission, Spread, Prevention & Treatment

Cholera is an infection caused by the bacteria Vibrio cholerae. More often than not, the bacteria is transmitted via contaminated water or food that has come into contact with contaminated water. The most common symptoms of cholera include extensive watery diarrhea, severe vomiting, nausea, dehydration, loss of electrolytes and muscles cramps. Severe cases may result in death, especially among children and the elderly.

Transmission and spread of cholera

The bacteria that causes cholera is usually passed out of the body of an infected person via the faeces. These bacteria may then contaminate a common source of drinking water and become widespread among populations. Poor water hygiene and sanitation are therefore important factors in the spread of the disease.

Cholera has been almost eradicated in most developed nations worldwide. It is, however, still a major health hazard in sub-Saharan Africa, south and south-east Asia, some parts of the Middle East and South America. Outbreaks of cholera may occur after natural disasters such as earthquakes or after war when there is overcrowding and lack of sanitation. Travellers are also susceptible to catching cholera, especially if they are travelling to areas where cholera is still endemic.

Prevention of cholera

Good hygiene, access to clean drinking water, adequate sanitation facilities and hand washing before eating and after using the toilet are simple measures taken that have reduced the incidence of cholera worldwide. Travellers are also advised to avoid ice creams and fruit juices offered by street vendors who display their sales goods in the open where they are exposed to flies and contaminants. In addition, travellers should not eat raw, unwashed vegetables, fruits, salads or shellfish.

There is an oral vaccine that can help prevent cholera and is estimated to be 85% effective. Vaccination is recommended for travelling to areas where cholera is endemic such as refuge camps and war zones.


The severe dehydration and loss of electrolytes from the body through vomiting and diarrhea can cause death among victims of cholera. The first and foremost therapy is therefore replenishment of fluids and electrolytes in the form of oral rehydration solution (ORS), as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). An ORS sachet contains a powder made up of salts and glucose which can be dissolved in clean drinking water. Antibiotics are also useful in reducing symptoms and treating the disease.

Further Reading

Last Updated: Jul 8, 2023

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Mandal, Ananya. (2023, July 08). Cholera Transmission, Spread, Prevention & Treatment. News-Medical. Retrieved on June 25, 2024 from

  • MLA

    Mandal, Ananya. "Cholera Transmission, Spread, Prevention & Treatment". News-Medical. 25 June 2024. <>.

  • Chicago

    Mandal, Ananya. "Cholera Transmission, Spread, Prevention & Treatment". News-Medical. (accessed June 25, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Mandal, Ananya. 2023. Cholera Transmission, Spread, Prevention & Treatment. News-Medical, viewed 25 June 2024,


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.