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Cholera is an infection of the intestines caused by bacteria called Vibrio cholera This infection results in large amounts of diarrhea A person can develop cholera by eating or drinking contaminated food or water Cholera occurs in most parts of the world In the US most cases are seen in travelers from other countries or in people who have eaten food imported from another country In some southern states in the US eating raw shellfish can catch cholera Cholera can cause severe dehydration which may result in death if the person is not treated Symptoms usually start 1 to 3 days after eating or drinking contaminated food or water and may include painless watery diarrhea often in very large amounts vomiting dehydration muscle cramping and weakness Thorough cooking of food can often prevent cholera Boiling water or treating it with chlorine or iodine is another good way to prevent this infection Cholera is common in underdeveloped countries that lack clean water supplies A person who travels to underdeveloped countries should be careful about the food and water consumed Good hygiene especially when preparing food can help prevent spreading the infection through foods The diagnosis of cholera begins with a complete medical history and physical examination Sometimes the bacteria can be seen in a sample of the stool with a microscope In other cases a stool culture is needed Stool culture involves putting a sample of stool in a special container This container has a solution in it that allows the Vibrio cholera bacteria to grow If the organism grows it can be identified and the diagnosis can be made All the important effects of cholera are due to losing large amounts of water and salt from the diarrhea A person can develop life-threaten salt imbalances and severe dehydration can occur resulting in low blood pressure and kidney damage In severe cases shock and even death are possible Death from cholera is very rare in the
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