Cholera is an acute infectious disease caused by the bacterium vibrio cholerae, which lives and multiples (colonizes) in the small intestine but does not destroy or invade the intestinal tissue (noninvasive). The major symptom of cholera is massive watery diarrhea that occurs because of a toxin secreted by the bacteria that stimulates the cells of the small intestine to secrete fluid. There are several strains of V. cholerae and the severity of the disease is based on the particular infectious strain.
Cholera is not a difficult disease to treat and most people recover well with appropriate oral fluid replacement (hydration). However, if the disease goes untreated, it can rapidly lead to shock, as a result of fluid and electrolyte loss, and to life-threatening complications.
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