Cholera Prevention

Cholera prevention explained

Cholera is an acute infection of the small intestine that causes substantial watery diarrhea in a patient and, sometimes, even death if untreated. We'll learn about cholera prevention and controlling it while home or by medical care.

It's spread through eating unhygienic food or drinking water that's contaminated with a bacterium known as Vibrio cholerae. Cholera was a major epidemic in the US in the 1800s, before more advanced water and sewage treatment systems emerged and began to supply the entire nation with clean water.

However, cholera outbursts are still a major problem in other parts around the world. At least 150,000 complaints are filed with the World Health Organization annually. The disease is rampant in places with huge crowding, war, famine, and poor sanitation. South Asia, Africa, and Latin America are some of the countries in which cholera is still a big challenge that people deal with every day.

Cholera symptoms

Symptoms of cholera can occur in a few hours or within five days following infection. Many times the symptoms appear mild, but other times they can be lethal. Many patients usually experience watery diarrhea followed by severe vomiting, which many times results in dehydration. Although a few patients may have minimal or no underlying symptoms, they can still spread the infection to other people.

During the stage of dehydration, a person may experience a rapid heart rate, severe thirst, low blood pressure, muscle cramps, loss of skin suppleness and so on. Some people may also experience dry mucous membranes inside the mouth, nose, throat, and eyelids. If not treated, dehydration can result in shock and may even kill a patient in a few hours.

Cholera prevention and treatment


Although a vaccine against cholera is available, the World Health Organization and the CDC don't recommend it that much. The vaccine can't support or protect half of the people who contract the disease, and unfortunately, the vaccine only lasts for a few months.

Fresh water

A person can protect his or her family by using boiled water, treated water, or bottled water. Therefore, a person should make sure they are taking other preventative measures. These include ensuring only the use of fresh water when preparing food and drinks, brushing teeth, washing face and hands, and more.

Avoid raw foods

For effective cholera prevention, a person should also avoid eating raw foods such as unpeeled vegetables and fruits, undercooked meat, unpasteurized milk and dairy products, and so on. People who consume contaminated foods will likely experience episodes of vomiting and diarrhea after getting cholera. In such cases, medical help should be sought right away to stop dehydration from occurring.

Oral solutions

Hydration is the foundational key to treatment for cholera. Thus, depending on how substantial the diarrhea is, therapy will consist of oral solutions to recover lost body fluids. Antibiotics, which annihilate the bacteria, aren't part of immediate treatment for mild cases. However, the drugs can significantly reduce the duration of diarrhea by half and also stop the secretion of the bacteria, thus helping stop further spread of the disease.


Other effective ways of cholera prevention include using surveillance and reporting all cases associated with cholera. Education of mass populations about safety health practices and good hygiene is also a bonus toward fighting any cholera outbreak that seems to devastate other people's lives.


In summary, cholera is a highly infectious disease that can be life-threatening if not early diagnosed and treated quickly. It's most prevalent in areas where a great mass of people live together with poor access to proper sanitation and improved water hygiene. On the other hand, the condition can be controlled and prevented with quality sanitation and drinking of clean water.

Some vaccines can also stop further spread of the disease, which means cholera can no longer be a big threat to people like before. But it's worth knowing that most health departments don't recommend the use of vaccines at all because they hardly cater for the general mass, plus they only last a few months. All the same, the other prevention measures against cholera outlined in this guide, if followed carefully, can help control and eradicate the disease.

Last Reviewed:
August 30, 2017
Last Updated:
October 06, 2017
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