To test the hypothesis that clinical Vibrio cholerae 01 infections protect against recurrent cholera, treated cholera episodes in a rural Bangladesh population of 188 153 people who were followed between 1985 and 1988 were analysed. Of the 2214 people with initial episodes of cholera, 7 had a second episode. The incidence of cholera was 61% lower in subjects who had had an earlier episode than in those without such an episode. Whereas initial episodes of classical cholera were associated with complete protection against subsequent cholera, initial episodes of El Tor cholera were associated with negligible protection.
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