Cholera is a diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine with the bacteria Vibrio cholerae. According to the CDC, an estimated 3-5 million cases and over 100,000 deaths occur each year around the world. The disease is often mild or without symptoms, but also has the potential to be severe. In severe cases the infected person will experience a rapid loss of body fluids that eventually leads to dehydration and shock. Without treatment, death can occur with hours.
The cholera bacteria is usually found in water or food sources that have been contaminated by human feces. The disease can spread rapidly in areas that lack proper waste management systems and inadequate treatment of sewage and drinking water.