Cholera illustration

What is cholera?

Horrible bug guilty of causing severe watery diarrhoea in people travelling to mainly to Africa and Asia. Beware of eating food or drinking water that may have become infected.

Cholera illustration
Disease video poster image

Risk areas for Cholera

Map of risk areas for Cholera
  • Key fact

    It is estimated that up to 4.0 million cholera cases and up to 143,000 deaths occur due to cholera every year.3

  • How do you get cholera?

    Mainly from drinking water or eating food contaminated containing the bacteria which cause cholera.1

  • Which countries are affected by cholera?

    Cholera is common in a number of countries across Africa and Asia but has also been reported in other countries where people have returned ill after travelling (see map).2 Outbreaks of the disease can also occur in countries where cholera was not previously common.3

  • What are the symptoms of cholera?

    Most people will not develop any symptoms, although they can still pass on the infection. Those who do develop symptoms will start to experience mild-moderate watery diarrhoea between 12 hours and 5 days after infection.3

  • How serious is cholera?

    Cholera can lead to severe watery diarrhoea and dehydration which can be fatal if not treated promptly.3 Treatment may involve oral rehydration solution, additional fluids or even antibiotics depending on the severity of illness.3

  • Can I prevent getting cholera?

    You can take the following precautions to help reduce your risk of infection:

    • Visit your nearest convenient pharmacy or specialist travel health clinic for a risk assessment before your trip
    • Avoid eating raw or undercooked fruit and vegetables that you haven’t prepared yourself. Use bottles or boiled water for washing food1
    • Avoid eating shellfish and seafood1
    • Avoid ice and ice creams1
    • Use boiled or bottles water for drinking and brushing your teeth1
    • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially before eating and after using the toilet1
    • Avoid unsanitary living conditions to reduce your risk of cholera infection4

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  1. NHS Choices. Conditions. Cholera. May 2021. Available online: (Last accessed May 2021)
  2. World Health Organization. Weekly Epidemiological Record. Cholera, 2017. September 2018. Available online: (Last accessed May 2021)
  3. World Health Organization. Factsheet. Cholera. February 2021. Available online: (Last accessed May 2021)
  4. Factsheets. Cholera. October 2019. Available online: (Last accessed May 2021)

UK-BOTB-2100019 May 2021