Am I at risk for getting cholera?

People who do not live in or visit areas where sanitation is poor have almost no risk of getting cholera. Even for people who do live in or visit such areas, the risks are not great.

Here are some precautions that can reduce your risk of getting cholera if you are in an area where it is widespread:

  • Drink only bottled, boiled, or chemically treated water or carbonated beverages. When using bottled drinks, make sure that the seal has not already been broken.
  • Avoid tap water and ice cubes made from tap water.
  • If bottled water is not available, you can disinfect water by boiling it for one minute or filtering it, and then adding two drops of household bleach or half of an iodine tablet per liter of water.
  • Wash your hands with soap and clean water every time you use the bathroom, and before you eat or prepare food. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner that is at least 60% alcohol.
  • Eat foods that are pre-packaged or that are freshly cooked and served hot. Avoid raw and undercooked meats and seafood or unpeeled fruits and vegetables.
  • Dispose of feces in a place away from water that is used for drinking or food, especially if you have had cholera.

Is there a vaccine for cholera?

In 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a single-dose live oral cholera vaccine called Vaxchora® for adults 18 to 64 years old who are traveling to areas known to be affected by the most common bacterial strain of cholera. The vaccine is not recommended for most travelers from the United States, as most tourists do not visit areas with active cholera transmission. The vaccine is not 100% effective, so people who get it still need to use caution when traveling to areas known to have cholera.

There are 2 other oral vaccines for cholera, but they are they not available in the United States. If you work for an organization that is based outside the United States and travel to areas known to have cholera, you may be able to access 1 of them. Both require 2 doses to be most effective.

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