In most cases, transmission of cholera occurs through eating food or drinking water that is contaminated with Vibrio cholerae bacteria. Vibrio cholerae can get into food or water either naturally or via contaminated feces. It is very unlikely for cholera to be spread directly from person to person through casual contact.
How Is Cholera Transmitted?
Transmission of cholera typically occurs by eating food or drinking water that is contaminated with the bacteria that cause cholera (Vibrio cholerae).
There are two ways that Vibrio cholerae usually gets into water or food:
- Contaminated feces.
The cholera bacterium may live in the environment in brackish (saltwater) rivers and coastal waters. Shellfish, when eaten raw, have been a source of cholera, and a few people in the United States have contracted cholera after eating raw or undercooked shellfish from the Gulf of Mexico.
In an epidemic, the source of the contamination is usually the feces of an infected person. Cholera can spread rapidly in areas with inadequate treatment of sewage and drinking water (see Pictures of Cholera).
Is It Transmitted From Person to Person?
Because casual contact with a person who has cholera is not a major risk for becoming ill, cholera is not likely to be transmitted directly from one person to another.