Cholera is caused by an infection of the intestine by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The illness is often mild or without symptoms, but can sometimes be severe, with symptoms typically appearing in 2-3 days. Severe symptoms are characterized by vomiting, profuse diarrhea, and leg cramps. Rapid loss of body fluids in severe cases can lead to dehydration, shock, and death within hours if left untreated. Cholera can be contracted from drinking or eating contaminated food or water. Cholera can spread quickly in areas that have poor treatment of sewage and drinking water, poor sanitation, and poor hygiene. Medical attention should be found immediately for those who think they may have cholera.