Cholera symptoms


South Africa has seen a rising number of Cholera cases on the heels of rising cases of Cholera in Southern Africa, with Malawi battling its deadliest outbreak yet, with more than 1300 deaths.

Cholera is an acute, diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine with the toxigenic bacterium Vibrio cholerae serogroup O1 or O139.

On 23 February 2023, Health Minister Joe Phaahla announced the first Cholera death, as more cases are detected in South Africa.

Symptoms of Cholera

Cholera is an extremely virulent disease that can cause severe acute watery diarrhoea. It takes between 12 hours and 5 days for a person to show symptoms after ingesting contaminated food or water (2). Cholera affects both children and adults and can kill within hours if untreated.

Most people infected with V. cholerae do not develop any symptoms, although the bacteria are present in their faeces for 1-10 days after infection and are shed back into the environment, potentially infecting other people.

Among people who develop symptoms, the majority have mild or moderate symptoms, while a minority develop acute watery diarrhoea with severe dehydration. This can lead to death if left untreated.

Prevention and control

A multifaceted approach is key to control cholera, and to reduce deaths. A combination of surveillance, water, sanitation and hygiene, social mobilisation, treatment, and oral cholera vaccines are used.

The Centre of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends five basic Cholera prevention steps, one of which is the usage of safe water.

As per the recommendations:

  • Use bottled water to brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, and make ice or beverages.
  • If bottled water is not available, use water that has been properly boiled, chlorinated, or filtered using a filter that can remove bacteria.
  • Use bottled water with unbroken seals.
  • Water from pipes, drinks sold in cups or bags, and ice may not be safe.

A five step prevention guideline can be found below:

Cholera prevention


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How can Shangoni help?

Shangoni offers an occupational hygiene service through our sister company LenExCo who is an Approved Inspections Authority (AIA), accredited with the department of Employment and Labour (DoEL).  With this specialised service, we can assist with providing companies’ assurance on the current drinking water quality and potential exposure risk through sampling and analysis to determine the presence of bacteria and other contaminants that may impair health.

For more information or assistance please contact Lené Niemand at