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Emergency Medical Minute


May 26, 2020

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,

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