Infection of the small intestine, causing intense, watery diarrhoea, which can lead to dehydration, and even death if left untreated.
Ingestion of contaminated food and water causes the infection. It is well controlled by sanitation, though there are regular outbreaks of the disease in northeast
Cholera has a sudden onset, with severe diarrhoea and sometimes vomiting occurring 1-5 days after infection. More than 500ml of fluid can be lost per hour, and unless this is replaced, it can cause dehydration and sometimes death as a result. The fluid loss is caused by a toxin produced by the bacteria, which greatly increases the passage of fluids to the large and small intestine.
Oral rehydration therapy treats cholera. In severe cases there may be need for intravenous fluid injection. Antibiotic drugs may help to eradiate the infection and shorten the time that side effects last. A full recovery is usual after a period of rehydration.
Improvements in worldwide sanitation have led to more control of cholera. Travellers who plan to visit cholera infected areas are advised to drink only bottled water from reliable sources.