Five Basic Cholera Prevention Steps
To prevent cholera, you should wash your hands often and take steps to ensure your food and water are safe for use. Following these simple steps greatly reduces your risk of getting cholera in areas where cholera is spreading:
- Use bottled water to brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, and make ice or beverages.
- If bottled water is not available, use water that has been properly boiled, chlorinated, or filtered using a filter that can remove bacteria.
- Use bottled water with unbroken seals.
Water from pipes, drinks sold in cups or bags, and ice may not be safe.
If you think your water may not be safe—treat it with a chlorine product, boil it, treat with bleach, or filter it.
Treat with Chlorine Product
- Treat your water with one of the locally available chlorine treatment products and follow the label instructions.
Or Boil it
- If a chlorine treatment product is not available, boiling is an effective way to make water safe. Bring your water to a rolling boil for 1 minute. Note: Boiled water is at risk for re-contamination if not stored and used safely.
Or Treat with Bleach
- If you cannot boil water, treat water with household bleach. Add 8 drops of household bleach for every 1 gallon of water (or 2 drops of household bleach for every 1 liter of water) and wait 30 minutes before drinking.
Or Filter It
- If filtering, use a device with a pore size less than or equal to 0.3 microns and treat the water with a disinfectant such as chlorine, chlorine dioxide, or iodine.
- Always store your treated water in a clean, covered container.
- Before, during, and after preparing food.
- Before and after eating food or feeding your children.
- After using the toilet.
- After cleaning your child’s bottom.
- After taking care of someone who is sick with diarrhea.
If you don’t have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60% alcohol.
- Use toilets or safely managed sanitation facilities to get rid of feces (poop). This includes disposal of children’s poop.
- Wash hands with soap and safe water after going to the bathroom.
If you don’t have access to a toilet:
- Poop at least 30 meters (98 feet) away from any body of water (including wells) and then bury your poop.
- Dispose of plastic bags containing poop in latrines or at collection points if available, or bury it in the ground.
- Do not put plastic bags in chemical toilets.
- Dig new latrines or temporary pit toilets at least a half-meter (1.6 feet) deep and at least 30 meters (100 feet) away from any body of water.
- Cook food well, keep it covered, eat it hot, and peel fruits and vegetables.
- Eat foods that have been thoroughly cooked and are still hot and steaming. Be sure to cook seafood, especially shellfish, until it is very hot all the way through.
- Avoid raw vegetables and fruits that cannot be peeled.
- Clean food preparation areas and kitchenware with soap and treated water and let dry completely before reuse.
- Bathe and wash clothes or diapers 30 meters (100 feet) away from drinking water sources.
- Clean and disinfect toilets and surfaces contaminated with poop: clean the surface with a soap solution to remove solids; then disinfect using a solution of 1 part household bleach to 9 parts water.
- When finished cleaning, safely dispose of soapy water and dirty rags. Wash hands again with soap and safe water after cleaning and disinfecting.
Traveling to an area with cholera?
Visit a doctor or travel clinic to talk about cholera vaccination if you will be traveling to or living in an area of active cholera transmission.
Currently, the only cholera vaccine approved in the United States for use (Vaxchora, an oral vaccine for those 2-64 years of age) is not available. Three other oral cholera vaccines are approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) and may be available at your travel destination or if you are living outside of the United States.