Cholera is an infectious disease caused by a bacterial toxin called Vibrio Cholerae. There are two types of Vibrio Cholerae called Cholerae Serogroup 01 and Vibrio Serogroup non-01. Serogroup 01 is most often the cause of cholera; however non-01 can also cause cholera as well.
The bacteria are excreted in faeces (and waste/ soil) and if this comes in contact with drinking water it will multiply and ultimately infect people. Bacteria can also spread through food and low hygiene levels (not washing hands etc.). Cholera can finally be transmitted through fish and shellfish. Shellfish filter large quantities of water and concentrate the bacterium which makes it more dangerous but also less rare a case.
Symptoms of Cholera are: mild illness, ordinary diarrhoea. However it can even evolve without any symptoms at all, when this happens it is very difficult for doctors with limited resources in developing countries to find out if the infecting bacteria will cause cholera or not. Within the first few hours of the illness the person will have stomach pains (without feeling sick), there may also be a mild fever. Then vomiting and diarrhoea begins. This is followed by copious, water pale diarrhoea that looks like rice. The fluid loss can be as high as 1 Litre at this point.
If the fluid loss is not replace in excess of 5-10 litres it can be fatal. Extensive dehydration can produce floppy skin, muscle cramps and hoarse voice. Levels of consciousness is also lower, as well as lethargy and confusion. Electrolyte balance may also be disrupted in the body which, if untreated, can lead to convulsions or cardiac arrest.
If untreated Cholera has a very high mortality rate. In developing countries the mortality rate in hospitals, for people who are not treated, is 60%. However it is even higher when not sent to hospital, with a mortality rate of 90%.
If treated the illness will go pretty quickly and the mortality rate lowers below 1%. If it is a mild case...