Diarrhea Home > How Is Cholera Spread?

Many people wonder, "How is cholera spread?" Cholera is normally spread by drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated food. It is very unlikely for cholera to be spread through casual contact.

How Is Cholera Spread?

Cholera is usually spread 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
  • Naturally.
Contaminated Feces
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).
The cholera bacterium may also 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.

Is Cholera Ever Spread From Person to Person?

Cholera is not likely to be transmitted directly from one person to another; therefore, casual contact with an infected person is not a risk for becoming ill.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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