What is is?

Cholera is an acute, diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. It is a gram-negative bacterium. It is rod shaped.

More information

You can get cholera by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Symptoms include watery diarrhea, vomiting and leg cramps. Cholera can spread rapidly in areas with inadequate treatment of sewage and drinking water. This disease is not likely to spread directly from one person to another so making contact with an infected person wont transmit the disease.


People who live in poor countries or countries with bad sewage and drinking water supplies are most at risk.

How common is cholera?

There are about 3-5 million cases and over 100,000 deaths each year around the world. The infection is often mild or without symptoms, but can sometimes be severe. However, if left untreated, death can occur within ours.


Cholera can be simply and successfully treated by immediate replacement of the fluid and salts lost through diarrhea. Patients can be treated with oral rehydration solution, a prepackaged mixture of sugar and salts to be mixed with water and drunk in large amounts. Severe cases also require intravenous fluid replacement. Antibiotics shorten the course and diminish the severity of the illness, but they are not as important as receiving rehydration.