Global Task Force on Cholera Control

Prevention and control of cholera outbreaks: WHO policy and recommendations

Case management

Efficient treatment resides in prompt rehydration through the administration of oral rehydration salts (ORS) or intravenous fluids, depending of the severity of cases. Up to 80% of patients can be treated adequately through the administration of ORS (WHO/UNICEF ORS standard sachet). Very severely dehydrated patients are treated through the administration of intravenous fluids, preferably Ringer lactate. Appropriate antibiotics can be given to severe cases to diminish the duration of diarrhoea, reduce the volume of rehydration fluids needed and shorten the duration of V. cholerae excretion. For children up to five years, supplementary administration of zinc2 has a proven effective in reducing duration of diarrhoea as well as reduction in successive diarrhoea episodes. In order to ensure timely access to treatment, cholera treatment centres should be set up among the affected populations whenever feasible.

Key messages

  • ORS can successfully treat 80% of cholera cases.
  • Appropriate antibiotics can reduce the duration of purging.

2For children below 6 months of age, add zinc 10mg daily for 2 weeks. For children from 6 months to 12 years, add zinc 20mg daily for 2 weeks.