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Cholera is an often severe and potentially fatal diarrheal disease caused by toxin-producing strains of the bacteria Vibrio cholerae. It is spread by food and water that is contaminated by the feces of an infected person. The disease can spread rapidly in areas of the world with inadequate sanitary conditions and treatment of sewage and drinking water. The bacteria live in seawater in warmer climates and can cause illness in persons eating raw or undercooked shellfish from contaminated waters. Vibrio cholerae does not naturally occur in the United States and is primarily acquired during travel to Africa, Asia, or Latin America. Outbreaks have also been caused by contaminated seafood brought back to the United States by travelers.

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