“Water-water everywhere not a drop to drink”. Yes, water- contaminated water, stagnant water, sewage, drains! Boon, or bane? Definitely, not sure. From early days we all have been edified about keeping our surroundings healthy and the water bodies clean, avoiding stagnant water, maintaining proper drainage systems, etc. The reason is being to avoid the water borne diseases.
Waterborne diseases in simple words are the diseases that originate from contaminated or filthy waters that can prove to be severely injurious to our health. Being specific it is not the water but the microorganisms that are transmitted through such water that cause the water borne diseases.
List Of Waterborne Diseases
No wonder the same water which is life is also the reason for death. A number of waterborne diseases affect people all over the world every year resulting in permanent illness and even death.
Stagnant or contaminated water becomes a breeding ground for germs like protozoa, parasites, bacteria, and viruses that can affect even those who are surrounded by the water. Such diseases can also spread either through drinking contaminated water or consuming foods whose preparation is done using such water.
Here is a list of some waterborne diseases:
- Cholera: It is caused by bacteria named Vibrio cholera. This disease is gastrointestinal.
- Typhoid: It is caused by bacteria named Being gastrointestinal it is caused by consuming contaminated food or water.
- Dysentery: It is the result of the inflammation of the intestines due to the bacteria named shigella/ Salmonella.
- Botulism: It is caused by toxins released by bacteria named Clostridium Botulinum. It is a fatal disease resulting in weakness, loss of vision and improper speaking.
- Polio: Polio is a rare disease caused by polioviruses. It is not curable and results in the paralysis of arms, legs or diaphragm.
- Hepatitis A: It causes inflammation of the liver by the Hepatitis A virus spread through contaminated food and water.
- Diarrhea: Caused by Rotavirus or Norovirus, it results in loose stools dehydration.
- Malaria: Malaria is a fatal waterborne disease spread by Plasmodium Parasite Mosquito that breeds in contaminated or stagnant water bodies.
- Filariasis: This parasitic disease is carried by black flies and mosquitoes causing Elephantiasis. This disease severely affects the limbs.
- Giardiasis: It is a common waterborne disease caused by a Protozoa resulting in diarrhea, bloating, stomach ache and gas pains.
Waterborne Diseases Statistics
The problem is not new but has been thriving in our society for a very long time. It is not easy to say if technological advancements or developments are doing good or bad to the society.
Water degradation is not an unfamiliar problem. Where on one hand we are trying harder to make drinking available to all, it is on the other hand that we are forgetting how degradation of the same water is causing prolonged Illness among people.
Needless to say that in countries like India, even though the Government and the local bodies are trying hard to make the sanitary conditions healthy and provide safe drinking water to all, still there are a large number of people who are deprived of such a necessity.
It is sad to say that according to the reports of the World Health Organization (WHO) “The World Bank estimates 21% of communicable diseases in India are water related. Of these diseases, diarrhea alone killed over 700,000 Indians in 1999 (estimated) – over 1,600 deaths each day.
The highest mortality from diarrhea is in children under the age of five, highlighting an urgent need for focused interventions to prevent diarrheal disease in this age group.”
Due lack of education, poor sanitary conditions, Food poisoning due to unhealthy eating and drinking habits and ignorance most people from the lower strata of the society become prone to such waterborne diseases.
It’s not just a matter of discussion for developing countries like India but even for the most developed nations of the world including the USA which has the safest drinking water in the world.
As per waterborne diseases statistics for the U.S., about 4-32 million cases of dreadful gastrointestinal illness are reported every year, such estimates exclude the cases of illness from non-public forms of drinking water.
Deaths Due To Contaminated Water
The World Health Organisation states that every year there are about more than 4 million deaths due to contaminated or stagnant water. It is said to be one of the biggest death-causing problems throughout the world.
Waterborne Disease Symptoms
Waterborne disease symptoms are generally common among all types of affected. Some of the common waterborne disease symptoms may include diarrhea, dehydration, loss of appetite, fever, stomach ache, respiratory problems, sore throat, etc.
There may also be cases where no immediate symptoms are reported but the effects are visible in the long run resulting in severe untreatable diseases like brain infections.
Water Borne Diseases Causes And Prevention
Lack of education and hence ignorance is the stem for the increasing number of diseases every year. Until the poor living scenarios do not change or develop, such diseases can never be eradicated from the world. People with the weak immune system, children, pregnant women or ill persons are more prone to the diseases. Following are some waterborne disease causes and preventions that need to be understood carefully:
- Improper or dirty sanitary conditions around or in the work or living places.
- Consuming contaminated water or foods in whose preparation such water is used.
- Eating food with dirty hands or washing hands with dirty water.
- Allowing stagnant water around the place of living.
- Washing utensils and clothes with contaminated water.
- Consuming street food or foods exposed to germs, sometimes we may come across food vendors standing near drains or sewage. This allows insects, flies, mosquitoes and another kind of microorganisms to contaminate the food.
- Wash your hands with soap or sanitizers using clean and fresh water before eating.
- Wash utensils and clothes with disinfectants under fresh water.
- Change the water in your water coolers or air conditions on a daily basis. Don’t allow the water to stagnate, this attracts mosquitoes and germs which can further enter our bodies through food or water.
- Keep your surroundings clean and maintain properly covered drainage systems. Faeces should not be allowed to pass through open pipes or channels near houses.
- Need to follow special precautions while traveling to away from home city/country where the weather or climatic conditions are wet. It may increase the chances to get traveler’s diarrhea.
- Strict: Do not pass sewage or waste materials in water bodies thus contaminating them. This may be the source of your drinking water or groundwater and may enter your body in some way or the other.
- Disinfect water before consuming especially in case of infants or patients by filtering or boiling.
- If resources allow, install water purifiers in workplace and home.
- Keep the surroundings near groundwater sources like hand pumps, wells, etc clean.
- Use potassium permanganate or chlorine at recommended levels in water resources for purifying the water.
- Avoid eating street foods from places nearby open drains or sewage. Avoid consuming ice products prepared from contaminated water.
- Make sure the water is stored in clean and hygienic containers.
Treatment Of Waterborne Diseases
In case one is suffering from a waterborne disease, make sure that the treatment of such is done instantly. Since they are carried by microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoans they may grow if not treated well at the right time and result in some severe disease.
If you’re suffering from diarrhea, your body will be dehydrated. Take proper fluids with ORS and glucose to keep your body hydrated. In case the diarrhea is severe, see a doctor as soon as possible.
Hospitalization may be suggested in case the disease can’t be treated at home. Eat nutritious food after recovery to avoid weakness and fluid loss because of repeated stools and vomits.
Your doctor might suggest either Loperamide or Probiotics like medicines to control diarrhea. Take a proper dose of medicines as prescribed by the physician. In case of fever calm the temperature down using cool bags and take sufficient rest to cure the disease faster.
Keep away from heavy, oily or outside food items during the treatment of waterborne diseases and even for some days after recovery.