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Cholera epidemic. Artwork of the spread of cholera in Exeter, England in the 1830s. As the body of a victim is removed, infected bed linen is washed in a stream from which drinking water is taken. Cholera is caused by a bacterium called Vibrio cholerae. It is an acute infection of the small intestines causing severe vomiting and diarrhoea leading to dehydration. Dehydration and the consequent imbalance of body fluids may result in rapid death. The bacterium is a water-borne pathogen, transmitted to humans through drinking water contaminated by human or animal faeces. Epidemics of cholera such as that represented here are associated with poor sanitary conditions.
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