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Cholera is a waterborne disease that affects between 1.3 million and 4 million people globally a year. Reporting is inaccurate due to the mostly underdeveloped regions that cholera affects. Cholera afflicts mainly warmer climates in summer months when water temperatures are warmest. Countries most affected include Haiti, Central and West Africa, Central and South America and Southeast Asia. The most important step in treating cholera is prevention and surveillance. Preparedness is also crucial in the fight against cholera endemics.

Cholera is a disease caused by the gram-negative bacteria vibrio cholerae. The contraction of cholera in the United States is usually associated with eating raw or undercooked seafood, namely oysters. This is more likely to occur in individuals with weakened immune systems. It is contracted through the ingestion of contaminated food or water. Symptoms include; severe watery diarrhea, vomiting, low blood pressure, muscle cramps, and tachycardia. Death can occur very quickly from kidney failure and corresponding electrolyte imbalances, dehydration, and shock. Therapy must occur without delay.

Treatment of cholera consists of supportive care of symptoms, antibiotics, intravenous fluids and oral rehydration therapy in underdeveloped countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) partner together to supply developing countries with oral rehydration salts (ORS). The ORS, while not a cure, has been successful in preventing deaths from cholera and other diarrheal diseases.

Travelers should survey and prepare against cholera when venturing abroad to the aforementioned high risk areas. Natural and man-made disasters can disturb the sewage and drainage systems in place to prevent disease. The 2010 Earthquake in Haiti brought a cholera epidemic back to Haiti after a 100 years’ disease-free period. The destruction brought unfavorable conditions for sewage and sanitation that were favorable to host vibrio cholerae. Regions of undeveloped Africa rely on scarce water supplies to combine cooking, bathing, toileting and drinking. When these citizens are faced with a choice to drink contaminated water or no water, the choice is to drink. Tourists can carry chlorine tablets purchased with the ORS before leaving America. Bringing one’s own water to economically developing nations is the safest option to prevent cholera.


Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2016). Cholera-Vibrio cholerae infection.
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Giaimo, S. (2016). Cholera Prevention When traveling. Teacher Tube. URL:
Poncelet, J. (2015). Cholera in Haiti: success and challenges in a low income country. Weekly Epidemiological Record, 90 (40), 542-544.
United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF). (2016). Cholera. Retrieved from:
World Health Organization (2016). Cholera. Retrieved from:

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