Last Updated: 19 June 2017

Cholera is a highly infectious, but easily treatable diarrheal disease that is caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.  

In most cases, the infection is mild or without symptoms.  About 1 in 10 infected persons will have severe disease including profuse watery diarrhoea, vomiting, and leg cramps.  This may lead to severe dehydration, even death within hours, if not properly treated.  However, the prompt administration of oral rehydration salts (ORS) to replace lost fluids almost always results in a cure.

In general, the risk for cholera is very low for individuals visiting countries with active cholera.  When you adhere to simple precautions, such as drinking and eating safe food and water, and washing hands frequently, you will have a very low chance to contract the disease.

For more information, please refer to the WHO Cholera page.

In order to reduce the risk of UN personnel and their dependents from contracting cholera, the United Nations Medical Directors (UNMD) have developed specific recommendations for UN personnel deploying to or residing in cholera-affected countries/areas.  Please consult the Cholera Risk Mitigation Plan (English / French) and be sure to implement UNMD’s recommendations for the risk category that you fall under.  These recommendations will be updated as new information and guidance become available.

For further information, please consult this UN Medical Directors’ Staff Information Brochure on Cholera.

Below are resources you may consult for more information on cholera and precautions to take when travelling to areas in which the virus has spread. Please email if you have any questions related to cholera.

Resources on Cholera