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Cholera: causes, symptoms and prevention

Cholera: causes, symptoms and prevention

  • November 2, 2021

Cholera is an infectious disease that causes severe watery diarrhoea and, if left untreated, can lead to dehydration and death. It is contracted by consuming food or water contaminated with the bacteria Vibrio cholerae (Dunkin, 2021).

The Centre for disease control and prevention (CDC, 2021), reports that an estimated 2.9 million cases of cholera are reported yearly and 95,000 deaths occur each year around the world.

Risk factors

Cholera can affect anybody, but there are a couple of risk factors that can make you more vulnerable. These include: 

  • Poor hygiene conditions: Cholera thrives in environments where maintaining a clean environment, access to clean and safe water supply is challenging. Internally displaced person’s (IDP’s) camps, and locations affected by starvation, war, or natural disaster, all have similar situations that allow poor hygiene to thrive.
  • Household exposure: living with someone who has contracted the virus puts the individual at risk.
  • Reduced or nonexistent stomach acid: Bacteria that cause cholera cannot survive in highly acidic environments, and ordinary stomach acid often serves as a defence against infection. But people with low levels of stomach acid — such as children, older adults, are at greater risk of cholera (Healthline, 2021).
  • Type O blood: It’s unclear why this is the case, but people with this blood type appear to be more susceptible to cholera (Healthline, 2021).


Cholera is a highly contagious disease that causes severe watery diarrhoea and can result in serious fluid loss. After consuming contaminated food or water, symptoms may occur anywhere from 12 hours to 5 days later. (WHO, 2021)

Other symptoms typically include:

  • Nausea and vomiting: Vomiting can linger for hours, particularly in the early stages of infection.
  • Dehydration: Dehydration can occur within hours after the onset of cholera symptoms and can range from minor to severe. Severe dehydration can also quickly result in shock, coma, and death if left untreated.

Irritability, weariness, sunken eyes, a dry mouth, intense thirst, dry and shrivelled skin, little or no urinating, low blood pressure, and an irregular heartbeat are all signs of cholera dehydration. (Mayoclinic, 2020)


Cholera is commonly transmitted through food and/or water. Cholera can be prevented by taking a few basic precautions.

  • Eat food that’s completely cooked and hot: avoid street food as much as possible, as this can carry cholera and other diseases.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water frequently: Hands should be washed often with soap and clean water, or with a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol, especially before eating or preparing food, and after using the restroom.
  • Drink only safe beverages: Drink only beverages that are bottled, canned, boiled, or chemically treated, and avoid tap water.

Despite the fact that most cases of cholera are mild, especially if treated, the infection can still be deadly. If you develop or are presently experiencing any of the symptoms, schedule a Carekojo appointment with the nearest hospital and seek medical attention.

To get started, visit or download the carekojo app on the google playstore. 


Dunkin, M.A. (2021, July 25). Cholera. Retrieved from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020, October 2) Chole- Vibrio cholerae infection. Retrieved from

World Health Organization (2021, February 5). Cholera. Retrieved from

Healthline. (2021, February 18). Cholera. Retrieved from

Mayoclinic (2020, February 01). Cholera. Retrieved from

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