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Cholera is an acute bacterial infection of the intestine caused by ingestion of food or water containing Vibrio cholerae, serogroups O1 or O139.
Symptoms include acute watery diarrhoea and vomiting which can result in severe dehydration or water loss. When left untreated, death can occur rapidly – sometimes within hours.
Cholera is transmitted through contaminated food or drinking-water, as well as by person-to person contact through the faecal-oral route. Sanitary conditions in the environment play an important role since the V. cholerae bacterium survives and multiplies outside the human body and can spread rapidly where living conditions are crowded and water sources unprotected and where there is no safe disposal of faeces.