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NOTE: A surveillance case definition is a set of uniform criteria used to define a disease for public health surveillance. Surveillance case definitions enable public health officials to classify and count cases consistently across reporting jurisdictions. Surveillance case definitions are not intended to be used by healthcare providers for making a clinical diagnosis or determining how to meet an individual patient’s health needs.

Clinical Description

An illness characterized by diarrhea and/or vomiting. Severity is variable.

Laboratory Criteria For Diagnosis

  • Isolation of toxigenic (cholera toxin-producing) Vibrio cholerae 01 from stool or vomitus, OR
  • Significant rise in vibriocidal or antitoxic antibodies in acute- and early convalescent-phase sera, OR
  • Significant fall in vibriocidal antibodies in early and late convalescent-phase sera among persons not recently vaccinated

Case Classification


A clinically compatible illness that is laboratory confirmed


When other cases are known to be occurring, a less than fourfold rise in titer between acute- and convalescent-phase serum may be considered significant. Likewise, a less than fourfold fall between early and late convalescent-phase sera may be important in these circumstances. Only confirmed cases should be reported to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS). Illnesses due to strains of V. cholerae other than toxigenic V. cholerae 01 should not be reported as cases of cholera.

Related Case Definition(s)