Five Basic Cholera Prevention Steps

If you live in or are visiting an area where cholera is occurring or has occurred, be aware of basic cholera facts and follow the five cholera prevention tips listed below. These tips will help you protect yourself and your family.

To prevent cholera, you should wash your hands often and take precautions to ensure your food and water are safe for use. The risk for cholera is very low for people visiting areas with epidemic cholera when these simple steps are followed:

1. Make sure to drink and use safe water to brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, and make ice

  • It is safe to drink and use bottled water with unbroken seals, and canned or bottled carbonated beverages.
  • If bottled water is not available, use water that has been properly boiled, chlorinated, or filtered:
    • Boiling is the most effective way to make water safe. If boiling, bring your water to a complete boil for at least 1 minute.
    • If boiling is not possible, you can use a chlorine product (i.e., granules or product tablets) to make your water safe. To treat your water with chlorine granules or tablets, use one of the locally available treatment products and follow the instructions.
    • If a chlorine treatment product is not available, you can treat your water with household bleach. Visit CDC’s Making Water Safe in an Emergency page for specific instructions on how to treat your water with household bleach.
    • Always store your treated water in a clean, covered container.
  • Clean food preparation areas and kitchenware with soap and safe water and let them dry completely before reuse.

2. Wash your hands often with soap and safe water*

  • Before, during, and after preparing food for yourself or your family
  • After using the latrine or toilet
  • After cleaning your child’s bottom
  • Before and after caring for someone with cholera

Follow the five steps to washing hands the right way:

  • Wet your hands with clean water.
  • Apply soap to your hands and rub them together. Be sure to lather the back of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean water.
  • Allow your hands to air dry or dry them with a clean towel.

* If proper handwashing resources are not available, wash your hands using water that is as clean as possible (e.g. that’s not visibly cloudy) from a safe source (e.g., an improved source like a borehole or protected spring).

Traveling to an area with cholera?

The FDA approvedexternal icon a single-dose live oral cholera vaccine called Vaxchora®. Vaxchora is recommended to prevent infection in adults who are 18 – 64 years old and are traveling to an area of active cholera transmission with toxigenic Vibrio cholerae O1 (the bacteria strain that most commonly causes cholera). For more information, please visit the cholera vaccines page.

3. Use latrines or bury your poop; do not poop in any body of water

  • Use latrines or other sanitation systems, like chemical toilets, to dispose of poop.
  • Wash hands with soap and safe water after pooping.
  • Clean latrines and surfaces contaminated with poop using a solution of 1 part household bleach to 9 parts water.

What if I don’t have a latrine or chemical toilet?

  • Poop at least 30 meters (approximately 100 feet) away from any body of water and then bury your poop.
  • Dispose of plastic bags that contain poop by putting them in latrines or at collection points, if available. You can also bury them in the ground. Do not put plastic bags in chemical toilets.
  • Dig new latrines or temporary pit toilets at least a half-meter (approximately 1 ½ feet) deep and at least 30 meters (approximately 100 feet) away from any body of water.

4. Cook food well (especially seafood), keep it covered, and eat it hot. Peel fruits and vegetables*

  • Be sure to cook shellfish (like crabs and crayfish) until they are very hot all the way through.
  • *Avoid raw foods other than fruits and vegetables that you have peeled yourself.

5. Clean up safely in the kitchen and in places where the family bathes and washes clothes

  • Wash yourself, your children, diapers, and clothes, 30 meters (approximately 100 feet) away from drinking water sources.