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What are waterborne diseases? | Causes and Prevention

waterborne diseases

What are waterborne diseases?

Waterborne diseases are illnesses caused by pathogens (bacteria, viruses, parasites, etc.) transmitted through contaminated water. Some examples of waterborne diseases include cholera, typhoid fever and hepatitis A. These diseases can cause diarrhea, vomiting, fever and stomach cramps. These can lead to more serious health problems.

How do waterborne diseases spread?

Waterborne diseases can spread in several ways:

Contaminated water sources: When pathogens are present in a water source such as a river, lake, or well, they can be ingested by people who use that water for drinking, bathing, or swimming.

Food contamination: Pathogens can also be spread through food washed or prepared with contaminated water or grown in soil fertilized with contaminated water.

Poor Sanitation: When proper sanitation facilities such as toilets and latrines are lacking, human waste can contaminate water sources.

Flooding: Flooding can overflow sewage systems and contaminate water sources, increasing the risk of waterborne diseases.

Human-animal interactions: Some waterborne diseases can be transmitted through animal feces, contaminating water sources.

Different Types waterborne diseases

1. Typhoid Fever

Typhoid fever is a waterborne disease caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi. The bacteria can survive in water or food contaminated by the feces of a person with typhoid. Once ingested, the bacteria multiply in the intestines and enter the bloodstream, causing symptoms such as fever, headache, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain. In some cases, the disease can cause serious complications such as intestinal bleeding, perforation, or even death if left untreated.

2. Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a waterborne disease caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). The virus is present in the feces of an infected person and can contaminate water sources, food, or surfaces that come into contact with feces. Once ingested, the virus attacks the liver, causing symptoms such as fever, fatigue, nausea and jaundice. In some cases, the disease can cause serious complications such as liver failure or death.

Hepatitis A is most common in areas with poor sanitation and limited access to clean water. It is prevalent in developing countries where there is inadequate sanitation, poor hygiene and inadequate water treatment.

3. Cholera

Cholera is a waterborne disease caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholera. The bacteria can survive in water or food contaminated by the feces of people with cholera. Once ingested, the bacteria multiply in the small intestine and release a toxin that causes severe diarrhea and dehydration. Cholera can cause death within hours if untreated.

Cholera is most common in areas with poor sanitation and limited access to clean water. It is prevalent in developing countries where there is inadequate sanitation, poor hygiene and inadequate water treatment.

4. Giardia

Giardia is a waterborne disease caused by the intestinal parasite Giardia. The parasite can survive in water or food contaminated by the fecal matter of an infected person. Once ingested, the parasite attaches to the lining of the small intestine and causes symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and bloating.

Giardia is most common in areas with poor sanitation and limited access to clean water. It is common in desert and backcountry areas, where people may drink from untreated surface water sources such as lakes, streams, or rivers.

How can you prevent waterborne diseases?

There are several ways to prevent waterborne diseases:

  • Drink clean and safe water: Be sure to drink water that has been treated or boiled to kill any harmful pathogens.
  • Practice good hygiene: Wash your hands regularly with soap and clean water, especially before eating or preparing food.
  • Proper Sanitation: Be sure to dispose of human waste properly and clean the area around your water source.
  • Proper food preparation: Ensure to cook food properly and practice food safety to prevent contamination.
  • Avoid swimming in water that may be contaminated: Stay away from water bodies that may be contaminated by sewage or agricultural runoff.
  • Seek medical attention: If you experience symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, or fever, seek medical help to prevent the illness from getting worse.

Following these steps can greatly reduce your risk of contracting a waterborne disease.

Conclusion:

Waterborne diseases are a significant public health concern that can have serious consequences if left untreated. It is important to drink clean and safe water, practice good hygiene and prepare and cook food properly. In addition, individuals and communities should improve access to clean water and sanitation and promote good hygiene practices.

Vaccination and medical care are needed and play an important role in preventing and treating these diseases.

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