Cholera is a bacterial infection that causes diarrhea. The cholera bacterium is usually found in water or food contaminated by feces (poop). Cholera is rare in the US. You may get it if you travel to parts of the world with inadequate water treatment and poor sanitation, and lack of sewage treatment. Outbreaks can also happen after disasters. The disease is not likely to spread directly from one person to another.

Often the infection is mild or without symptoms, but sometimes it can be severe. Severe symptoms include profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps. In severe cases, rapid loss of body fluids leads to dehydration and shock. Without treatment, death can occur within hours.

Doctors diagnose cholera with a stool sample or rectal swab. Treatment includes replacing fluid and salts and sometimes antibiotics.

Anyone who thinks they may have cholera should seek medical attention immediately. Dehydration can be rapid so fluid replacement is essential.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Symptoms of Cholera

The following features are indicative of Cholera:
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • dehydration
  • shock
  • muscle cramps
  • seizures
  • coma
It is possible that Cholera shows no physical symptoms and still is present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Cholera

The following are the most common causes of Cholera:
  • vibrio cholerae bacterial infection spread by fecal-oral route
  • poor sanitation
  • use of seafoods
  • usage of raw fruits and vegetables

Risk Factors for Cholera

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Cholera:
  • poor sanitary conditions
  • nonexistent stomach acid
  • people with type O blood
  • undercooked shellfish
  • exposure with someone who has the disease

Prevention of Cholera

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Cholera. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • drink clean water
  • wash hands with soap and water frequently
  • do not eat street vendor food
  • avoid improperly cooked fish and seafood
  • be cautious about dairy foods

Occurrence of Cholera

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Cholera cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Common between 1 - 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Cholera can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Cholera can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Cholera

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Cholera:
  • Stool sample: To diagnosis for the cholera bacterium
  • Rapid cholera dipstick tests: To confirm diagnosis of cholera

Doctor for Diagnosis of Cholera

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Cholera:
  • Infectious disease specialist

Complications of Cholera if untreated

Yes, Cholera causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Cholera is left untreated:
  • life threatening dehydration
  • electrolyte imbalances
  • diarrhea
  • may be fatal

Procedures for Treatment of Cholera

The following procedures are used to treat Cholera:
  • Intravenous fluid replacement: Fluid replacement is done in severe cases

Self-care for Cholera

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Cholera:
  • Use bottled Water: Drink only bottled, boiled, or chemically treated water
  • Maintain hygiene: Wash your hands often with soap and clean water before eating or preparing food
  • Avoid raw food: Avoid raw meats and seafood
  • Maintain sanitary hygiene: Dispose off feces in a sanitary manner to prevent contamination of water and food sources

Time for Treatment of Cholera

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Cholera to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • In 1 - 4 weeks

Is Cholera Infectious?

Yes, Cholera is known to be infectious. It can spread across people via the following means:
  • unsafe water
  • unsafe food
  • contaminated human feces

Related Topics

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Cholera.

Related Topics


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