Cholera is a disease caused by bacterial infection of the intestine. The infection is usually mild, but at times can be severe. Though cholera is extremely rare in the United States, anyone can get cholera by drinking water or eating food contaminated with the bacteria. In an outbreak situation, the source of contamination is usually the feces (stool) of an infected person. The disease can spread rapidly in areas with inadequate treatment of sewage and drinking water. Approximately one in 10 infected persons will have severe disease with watery diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps. In these people, rapid loss of body fluids leads to dehydration and shock. Without treatment, death can occur within hours.