Cholera, sometimes known as Asiatic cholera or epidemic cholera, is an infectious gastroenteritis caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.
Transmission to humans occurs through ingesting food or water that is contaminated with cholera vibrios.
The major reservoir for cholera was long assumed to be humans themselves, but considerable evidence exists that aquatic environments can serve as reservoirs of the bacteria.
Vibrio cholerae is a Gram-negative bacterium that produces cholera toxin, an enterotoxin, whose action on the mucosal epithelium lining of the small intestine is responsible for the characteristic massive diarrhoea of the disease.
In its most severe forms, cholera is one of the most rapidly fatal illnesses known, and a healthy person may become hypotensive within an hour of the onset of symptoms; infected patients may die within three hours if medical treatment is not provided.
In a common scenario, the disease progresses from the first liquid stool to shock in four to 12 hours, with death following in 18 hours to several days.
The diarrhoea associated with cholera is acute and so severe that, unless oral rehydration therapy is started promptly, the diarrhoea may within hours result in severe dehydration (a medical emergency), or even death.
Water and electrolyte replacement are essential treatments for cholera, as dehydration and electrolyte depletion occur rapidly. Prompt use of oral rehydration therapy is highly effective, safe, uncomplicated, and inexpensive - Wikipedia