What are Waterborne diseases?

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Causes and Symptoms of Waterborne Illness

Waterborne diseases are caused by the consumption or/and usage of water, infected by pathogenic bacteria. Mostly these are intestinal bacteria that infect the digestive tract and enter the circulatory system through walls of the digestive system.

According to WHO, waterborne diseases are responsible for 1.5 million human deaths annually. So, for sure, waterborne diseases are nothing to be ignored and awareness is needed in the masses to minimize the causes.

Waterborne diseases include cholera, malaria, scabies, polio, dengue, typhoid, and other gastrointestinal diseases.

How Waterborne diseases spread?

Waterborne diseases spread fast. The reason is that if there is only slight contamination (infected fecal material or infected urine) in the water, it can affect the person using it. Contamination is caused when infected human or animal’s feces or urine mix in the water. If that water is taken orally or used in any way, it will infect the respective person.

Intake of contaminated water:

The most obvious reason for spread is drinking the contaminated water. Drinking water (public or private) which is taken from rain, rivers, creeks, and lakes are most likely to be infected. This can cause a dramatic outbreak of cholera, typhoid etc.

Contact with or use of contaminated water:

If the infected fecal material gets into the water which is used for washing purposes, even then waterborne diseases can spread. The infected water which is touched can infect the person using it. This affects the people who wash clothes collectively the most as there can be a chance of infection residing inside the clothes (if there are any feces or urine). When that water is used by the people for washing purposes, the disease can spread in the community.

Contaminated food:

Food which is infected by contamination also spreads waterborne diseases.  The infected fecal material may reach a person’s mouth or hand and can infect him/her even if there is a slight intake or contact.

This most likely happens in restaurants or motels where every other person stops and have food.

 

Poor sanitation and drainage system:

Improper and poor hygiene collectively in the community, poor sanitation and drainage also help spread the diseases. Mosquitos, tropical black flies, and other insects carrying the pathogen live happily in the drained water and thus cause the diseases like malaria and cholera.

Preventive measures to avoid Waterborne diseases :

People in a community individually and collectively should take steps to minimize the outbreak of waterborne disease. Some of the steps which should be taken urgently are:

Use of clean water:

Obviously, we should drink and use clean water. Ensure that the water is not infected by checking the contents of water in a laboratory. Water should be tested and if it is pure only then it should be provided to the community.

Individually, everyone should wither boil or filter the tap water and then use it for drinking purposes. The water which is used for bathing, washing etc. should also be clean and should be checked before providing it to the people.

Use of disinfectants:

Disinfection of drinking water and water used for household purposes should be done. This ensures that all the microorganisms have been killed and the water is pure.

Two most common methods of disinfecting the water are:

  • Irradiation with ultraviolet radiations.
  • Oxidation with chlorine dioxide or chlorine.
  • Oxidation with ozone.

Disinfecting should be done in a proper way so that the water remains clean and pure and also retains its own properties.

Proper sanitation and drainage system:

There should be no leakage and the sanitation should be proper. Sometimes, the water gets mixed with the used water when there is a broken pipeline. This should be monitored carefully so that the water which is used for drinking and household purposes remains in its own pipelines.

Food safety precautions:

Protect yourself and your loved ones by practicing food safety precautions. These include:

  • Always wash your hands when eating or cooking in the kitchen.
  • Wash the raw vegetables before eating them.
  • Cook the meat properly so that all the microorganisms get killed due to high temperature.
  • Don’t store food for a long time over the counter on in the fridge.
  • Avoid making meals in you yourself are infected and showing the symptoms.

Maintaining good personal hygiene:

It is of utmost importance to practice your personal hygiene. Washing your hands in a proper way and frequently can prevent you from catching the disease. You should wash your hands for a good 20 seconds and thoroughly rub them together. Wash your hands before eating or cooking your meal. If you are handling cattle, then wash and sanitize your hands after it.

So, waterborne diseases can be fatal and they spread very easily. We should ensure the preventive measures discussed above to help stop them from spreading.

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