October 25th, 2010
09:15 AM ET

Cholera can be deadly within hours

(CNN) - Cholera is a bacterial illness that causes severe diarrhea and dehydration and can be lethal within hours if a person is not treated.

"This is a bacteria that actually is in the environment. It's in brackish water in the river. It can be in seacoasts and if the environmental conditions are not right, the cholera bacteria can grow up and then anyone who ingests that water or food that comes from that water or food that is prepared with that water can get ill," says Dr. William Schaffner, chair of Preventive Medicine at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

In an epidemic, cholera can also be spread from the feces of an infected person. Children and adults alike are vulnerable. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), three-quarters of people carrying the bacteria have no symptoms. For those who do get sick, the main symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, muscle cramps, dehydration and shock. Death can occur if treatment is not immediately administered.

Full story on the Chart blog

Filed under: 360° Radar
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Annie Kate

    Cholera is a terrible way to go – it was one of the main diseases in rural America in the 1800s and before that people lived in dread of – cholera, yellow fever, malaria, typhoid. We take clean water for granted now and we don't hear of these diseases much but given a catastrophe like Haiti experienced I'm surprised it is just now cropping up.

    October 25, 2010 at 8:45 pm |