Podcast 566:  The Cholera Pandemic - The Emergency Medical Minute

Podcast 566:  The Cholera Pandemic

Contributor: Jared Scott, MD

Educational Pearls:

  • Cholera has been responsible for 6 previous global pandemics and currently the world is in the seventh pandemic of cholera, ongoing since 1961.
  • Cholera originated in the Ganges Delta of India and spread worldwide but largely is unseen in the US and other developed countries due to water sanitation
  • Cholera is a bacterial illness that is water borne and causes severe diarrhea
  • Estimates say that there are 1.3-4 million cases annually and up to 143,000 people die each year from Cholera.
  • Treatment is largely supportive and can be done with oral rehydration therapy consisting of water, salt, and sugar.
  • There are three oral vaccinations for Cholera but unfortunately are not widely available
  • Cholera has been responsible for ushering in public health initiatives. Most famously when John Snow was able to isolate a single water source causing Cholera infections in London and by shutting it off eradicated the bacteria


“Cholera.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 17 Jan. 2019, https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cholera

Clemens JD, Nair GB, Ahmed T, Qadri F, Holmgren J. Cholera. Lancet. 2017;390(10101):1539‐1549. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(17)30559-7


Summarized by Jackson Roos, MS4 | Edited by Erik Verzemnieks, MD

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