22
Jul

COMMON WATERBORNE DISEASES

Each year, waterborne diseases afflict hundreds of millions of people, primarily those living without safe, accessible water in developing countries.

Of the seven most common waterborne diseases in the world, diarrhea is the central symptom. The latest research shows that diarrhea is the second leading cause of death for children under the age of five, causing more childhood deaths than malaria, AIDS, and measles combined.

COMMON WATERBORNE DISEASES

  1. Typhoid Fever

Typhoid fever is caused by Salmonella typhi bacteria transmitted via contaminated water. Although rare in industrialized countries, typhoid fever is well-known in extremely poor parts of developing nations; it is estimated that up to 20 Million people worldwide suffer from the illness each year. It’s spread through contaminated food, unsafe water, and poor sanitation, and it is highly contagious.

Symptoms include:

  • A fever that increases gradually
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea or constipation

Prevention and Treatment

Vaccines are recommended for people who are traveling in areas where poor sanitation and unsafe water are common. The vaccine can be injected via a shot or taken orally for a number of days. To prevent it, refrain from drinking any water that isn’t bottled and sealed, and do not eat food from villages or street vendors. Typhoid is treated with antibiotics.

  1. Cholera

It is mainly caused by bacteria named Vibrio cholerae via consumption of contaminated food or drinking water. Cholera is commonly found in marginalized villages where poverty and poor sanitation are rampant. The disease is spread through contaminated water and causes severe dehydration and diarrhea. Cholera can be fatal within days or even hours of exposure to the bacteria, but only 1 in 10 people will develop life-threatening symptoms.

Symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle cramps

Prevention and Treatment

Wash your hands often, only eat foods that are completely cooked and hot, and only eat vegetables you can peel yourself, like avocados, bananas, and oranges. Drink safe water.

  1. Giardia

This waterborne disease is shared through contaminated water, most often in ponds and streams, but it can also be found in a town’s water supply, swimming pools, and more. The infection is caused by a parasite and typically clears up after a few weeks. However, it’s possible for those who have been exposed will experience intestinal problems for years to come.

Symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Cramps and bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss

Prevention and Treatment

While there is no vaccine for Giardia, there are simple ways to avoid the infection. Wash your hands with soap often, don’t swallow water while swimming, and drink only safe water.

With time, the immune system will typically beat giardia on its own. But, if symptoms worsen, doctors prescribe anti-parasite and antibiotic medications.

  1. Dysentery

An intestinal infection, dysentery is a waterborne disease characterized by severe diarrhea as well as blood or mucus in the stool. Dysentery is good reason to always wash your hands, as the disease is spread mainly through poor hygiene. It can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites in unsafe food and water and by people coming in contact with fecal matter. If someone experiencing dysentery cannot replace fluids quickly enough, their life could be at risk.

Symptoms include:

  • Stomach cramps and pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration

Prevention and Treatment

To prevent dysentery, wash your hands with soap frequently,  avoid eating food sold by street vendors, and only eat fruits you can peel. Drink only sealed, bottled water while traveling in places with higher dysentery risk, such as communities where proper hygiene practices are uncommon.

  1. Escherichia Coli (E. coli)

E. coli is a bacteria with various strains, some dangerous and some beneficial. For example, E. coli bacteria is important in creating a healthy intestinal tract.

However, if animal waste has found its way into farmland where produce is grown or if strains of E. coli are spread through the process of making ground beef, those who consume these foods could experience symptoms of the waterborne illness. The bacteria is also found in unsafe water sources around the globe where human water sources and cattle coexist.

Symptoms of dangerous strains of E. coli are similar to that of dysentery and other waterborne diseases. Most bouts of E. coli pass within a week, but older people and young children have a greater chance of developing life-threatening symptoms. Anyone believed to have been exposed to contaminated food or water should contact a doctor if diarrhea contains blood.

Prevention and Treatment

As always, avoid water possibly contaminated by human and/or animal feces (like ponds, rivers, and swamps). If you are going to eat ground beef, cook thoroughly. Wash fruits and vegetables well, wash hands often, and drink only safe water.

  1. Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by consuming contaminated food and water or by coming in close contact with someone who has the infection. People who travel in developing countries often or work in rural communities with poor sanitation and hygiene management are most exposed to the disease.

Symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Jaundice
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain, especially near your liver
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sudden fever

Prevention and Treatment

The best way to prevent hepatitis A is by getting the vaccine. Eat only foods that are thoroughly cooked and served hot, and avoid eating anything at room temperature. Only eat fruit that you can peel and that you have peeled yourself. Salmonella

Most cases of salmonella come from ingesting food or water contaminated with feces. Undercooked meat, egg products, fruits, and vegetables can also carry the disease. Most people don’t develop complications, but children, pregnant women, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems are most at risk.

Symptoms include:

  • Blood in stool
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea

Prevention and Treatment

When preparing your own food, make sure to cook thoroughly and store or freeze within 30 minutes of use. Avoid touching birds or reptiles, and as always, wash your hands frequently.

Salmonella infection dehydrates the body. Treat it by drinking fluids.