Cholera: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, And Prevention


Cholera is an intestinal infection. It is transmitted from the ingestion of contaminated food and water. Cholera rarely spreads from person to person. The infection does not cause any symptoms in the majority of cases.

Otherwise, it can result in :

  • Profuse diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Dehydration

The cornerstone of cholera treament is hydration.

Cholera is extremely rare among travelers. Even people traveling to areas where there are cholera outbreaks will not often contract this disease. Cholera vaccine was previously required to travel to some countries but it is not anymore. Immunization is recommended for high risk travelers such as health professionals traveling to endemic regions, refugee camp workers, and people traveling to areas where healthcare is hard to access.

Cholera is prevented by a thorough selection of food and drinks during travel.

Can Cholera Be Treated Successfully?

Treatment for Cholera infections includes a multi-action approach in order to target both the symptoms caused by the infectious disease, as well as the bacteria causing the disease, simultaneously. This is a more effective approach since both poses threats to an infected patient’s health and will significantly reduce their risk of dying.

The first line of treatment for a patient that has been infected with this disease is to rehydrate their body. A physician in charge that is attending to the patient will need to determine how severely they have been dehydrated and determine the best approach to rehydration based on their findings. This may include:

  • Oral rehydration by means of a salt solution.
  • Intravenous rehydration by means of a Ringer’s lactate.

In addition to providing the patient with a method of rehydration, antibiotic treatments are also often used together with the initial treatment approach to assist with fighting against the actual bacteria causing the disease. One study explains that the use of specific antibiotic drugs, including doxycycline, ciprofloxacin, furazolidone, tetracycline, and norfloxacin, has been found to also reduce stool output (minimize diarrhea), which makes the rehydration methods initiated more successful.

Dukoral Cholera Vaccine

Dukoral is the only oral cholera vaccine that provides you with protection against diarrhea caused by a heat-labile toxin.

Can Cholera Kill An Infected Person?

Cholera is considered a life-threatening disease in a small number of cases. This, however, does not mean a person who only develops moderate symptoms should not be concerned – the symptoms may progress and become more severe. When excessive dehydration is experienced, along with a more severe level of diarrhea, then the patient can die within hours after starting to show signs of the infection. This makes fast and effective treatment a vital element in saving a patient’s life.

How Can Cholera Be Avoided?

Some cholera vaccines have been approved for the use as a preventative option against Cholera, but these vaccines are known not to be 100% effective. In addition to obtaining an appropriate vaccine prior to travelling to a destination where a person would be put at a higher risk of being infected with this disease, a number of additional helpful tips may help to prevent the infection further:

  • Hands should frequently be washed, especially while abroad at the “high-risk” area.
  • Water should not be consumed unless a person knows that it comes from an uncontaminated source.
  • Both heat and effective disinfectant solutions should be used to disinfect any particular linen or other objects, including surfaces, that a person may come in contact with when there is a risk of contamination.
  • When using ice, the ice should be made from water that is known to be from a source that has not been contaminated.

Which Countries Are Considered High-Risk Areas For Cholera?

While the general risk of Cholera for most travel destinations is considered to be low, there are certain areas in the world where the infectious disease is considered a public health epidemic. Individuals planning to travel abroad should do some initial research and identify whether their travel destination may fall within such a category.

In particular, the Government of Canada has advised residents to be especially careful when visiting a region of Asia and Africa. Additionally, some parts of the Central and the Southern American regions are also considered to be high-risk areas.


Being infected with the Cholera bacterial infection can lead to fatal complications and lead to death in just a couple of days. Recognizing the symptoms of cholera is vital as early treatment is important for the prevention of complications, which can be fatal and lead to the death of the affected person. Additional education about countries and region where the risk of being infected with this bacterial disease also plays a role in ensuring travellers take appropriate precautionary measures to prevent infection.  

We make every effort to ensure that the information posted on our website is up to date and accurate according to the latest public health recommendations; however, it is impossible for us to make changes on a daily basis.

For the most current travel health recommendations, please call our clinic as make an appointment with one of our travel health professionals.