Quick facts about Cholera and how to prevent it

Cholera is preventable and treatable

Situation in Malawi

  • Affected districts: Karonga, Nkhata Bay, Kasungu, Dowa, Salima and Lilongwe – as of 17th January 2018
  • Four deaths – as of 17th January 2018
  • 274 registered cases – as of 17th January 2018
  • All neighbouring countries (Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia) have been hit by cholera.

What is cholera

  • Cholera is an intestinal infection-vibrio cholerae

Signs and symptoms

  • Diarrhoea – faeces look like rice water
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Rapid dehydration
  • If untreated, cholera causes death from dehydration, electrolyte imbalance and hypovolemic shock


  • Feco-oral transmission route – eating food or drinking water contaminated with faeces of an infected person.
  • Incubation period (2 to 5 days), but can be as early as 2 hours from the time of infection.
  • In some cases, a person may ingest cholera bacteria, pass it on to others without the transmitting person getting infected.
  • An infected person can be infectious for 7-14 days.
  • 75 percent of infected persons do not develop symptoms.

Risk factors

  • Drinking untreated water or eating poorly cooked food in endemic areas.
  • Poor sanitation facilities with inadequate sewage disposal.
  • Poor hand hygiene practices especially after using the toilet
  • Contact with infected person (dead or alive)


  • Drink safe water – mineral, boiled or chlorine-treated water
  • Wash hands before eating food or drinking anything, and after toilet use
  • Wash fruits well and peel them before eating
  • Do not eat outside home—avoid food from big gatherings when there is a cholera outbreak
  • Avoid visiting areas where there is an outbreak
  • Eat only freshly cooked foods
  • Avoid flies at home, cover food and chase flies away from food
  • Cut your nails for easy cleaning
  • Avoid cooked foods from vendors
  • Eating canteens – buy only freshly cooked food and follow all preventive measures
  • When doing field work with poor accessibility to safe water – i.e. carry your own water and follow all preventive measures.


  • Start ORS – you can also make your own ORS by adding 8 teaspoons of sugar, ¼ teaspoon of salt to 1 litre of safe water
  • Go to Hospital
  • Cholera is both preventable and treatable
  • 80 percent of cases can be treated by ORS alone

Click here to watch a video with more tips on Cholera