Water and life go hand in hand. As air is essential, similarly is water to human body. Water in human body, not only acts as a solvent, but also as a temperature buffer. It is water that makes life on earth possible. It provide nourishment to all living organisms including plants, animals and microorganisms. A human body is made up of around 70% water whereas an infant has 80% of it. Every day, one looses water through metabolism, respiration, bowel movements, and urine. The need of water in a human body is around 8L a day.
Even being essential, most of the people on earth don’t consume water in its purest form. Decreasing quality of water poses a serious threat to human health. When water is contaminated with bacteria, protozoa or virus can cause water-related diseases. Almost 1 billion people lack access to improved supply of water. Recreational users of water are higher risk of potentially fatal diseases. Around 4 million people die due to water based diseases each year. And moreover, there are 780+ millions without clean water access in world.
The term, Waterborne disease, is most commonly used to signify infections that are caused due to infected water. Water-related diseases can be of many types including water-borne, water-based, water-washed or water-vector, categorized on the basis of their transmission path.
So, Here we are, with some most common diseases caused by polluted water.
Cholera is the most rapidly spreading illness known. Spread by the bacterium, Vibrio Cholerae, the toxic strain when ingested along with food or water causes this disease. The bacteria can survive even after excretion for a span of 3 weeks. Seafood are the major surviving place for Vibrio Cholerae. Once a person carries this bacteria, he can continue to excrete the bacteria for a span of 2-3 weeks. On an average it takes two to four days to show the symptoms of the disease. On a higher note, it results in very watery diarrhoea, nausea, cramps and vomiting. More than 50 countries still report cholera to WHO.
Since it is a water-borne disease, proper hygiene, sanitation and clean drinking water are pre-requisite. Instant medication can be provided by using oral or intravenous hydration.
The pathogen causing the disease is Campylobactor jejuni bacteria. It spreads mainly due to contamination of water with infected faeces. Cattles are a major reservoir of this bacterium. Improper hygiene of the people who work near animals, especially poultry, are major carriers and are most infected. The symptoms include mild to severe diarrhoea and high fever along with dysentery-like symptoms.
Infants and elderly people are more vunerable to Campy. In order to prevent, good hygiene, sanitation and clean drinking water should be maintained. Products derived from animals should be checked of possible contamination before eating or drinking.
The parasite causing Amoebiasis is Entamoeba histolytica. The disease is caused when the faecal matter is ingested of an infected usually from sewage or non-treated drinking water. Amoebiasis causes abdominal pain along with diarrhoea, fever leading to weight loss. The incubation time of the parasite is around 2-4 weeks. It can weaken the abdomen and cause perforations in intestines in severe cases.
Fruits and vegetables when irrigated by contaminated water carry this infection. Because visible symptoms are only 10%, strict hygiene and sound sanitation practices are necessary. Infected patients are treated with antiparasitic medication and even surgery in serious cases.
Cryptosporidiosis or otherwise called as “Crypto”, is caused by a pathogen cryptosporidium parvum parasite. It resides in the host body for 2-10 days before showing symptoms of the disease. The hyperactive parasite reservoir is the faecal matter of animals. Due to poor hygiene, this spreads among people living together. It is not destroyed by chlorination, neither by filtration nor by boiling.
Drug do not destroy this parasite and early symptomatic treatment is given. Since the infection affects the gut, proper hygiene and clean drinking water is essential for this disease too.
8. Typhoid Fever
The microbial agent causing Typhoid Fever is Salmonella Typhi. Along with abdominal pain, the patient suffers from diarrhoea, cramps and chills. Typhoid is also caused by drinking water contaminated by faeces of an infected. It is a hub of diseases. Person with Typhoid usually get primary severe outcomes and the leading infection may last up to 3 weeks or more. The patients with Typhoid are usually diagnosed from their stool, as stool are the major carriers of the pathogen for 4 months of untreated patients. Food contamination are enhanced by flies. Water contaminated with Salmonella Typhi consumed in any form may lead to this disease.
7. Gastroenteritis or “Gastric Flu”
Calicivirus virus when contaminates water causes Gastric Flu. The pathogen takes around 36 hours to show the symptoms of diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, cramps and fever. The disease spreads very fast among the people living together sharing utensils. The ice blocks delivered at your home may be contaminated as the virus survives freezing. The dehydration suffered should immediately be replaced especially in infants. Gastric Flu is not caused only by the virus, there are many other sources, thus the vaccination does not help in this disease. Drinking treated water and maintaining good personal hygiene is the prevention.
Otherwise called, Shigella Dysentery is caused by a number of species in the genera Shigella Salmonella. The contaminated water when ingested causes sudden abdominal pain, fever, diarrhoea, cramps and may lead to bloody stool. Kidney of the patient is affected due to decreased urine production. Severity may lead to hospitalization. It spreads from person-to-person contact with symptoms usually lasting longer.
Rehydration of fluids is necessary. Special care and hygiene must be maintained by the food providers. Boiled water or disinfectants may be used for water purification.
It is the infection caused by Giardia Lamblia parasite. The parasite resides for 1 to 2 weeks before showing the symptoms of excess gas with abdominal pain. The infected people almost show no symptoms but may be lead to diarrhoea and weight loss. Inappropriate sanitation causes contamination when excreta of infected person or animals comes in contact with drinking water. The disease is diagnosed from stool sample of the infected. Children are usually prone to the disease. Healthy beings usually recover faster than children. Medicinal treatment effective against the parasite are available easily. Effective hygiene and clean drinking water may prevent.
4. Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A Virus pathogen, causing HA is transmitted through contaminated food and water. Major of the patients show acute symptoms in around 48 days, but fever, fatigue, diarrhoea, nausea may be seen in infected patients. Milk products and water are the major carriers. Proper hygiene and maintaining good sanitation are itself a prevention.
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, caused by the microbial agent, coronavirus, manifests itself in untreated water. Person infected with SARS usually gastrointestinal problems with fever and sore throat. It is one of the most common infection spread by contaminated water.
2. Adenovirus Infection
It is caused by Adenoviridae virus that contaminates drinking water. It resides in the host for around 5-9 days before showing the symptoms. The infection spreads only in the part effected and may vary along with time.
1. E.Coli Infection
Some specified strains of Escherichia Coli bacteria, commonly known as E.Coli causes E.Coli Infection. The infected may show symptoms of abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, fever and even bloody diarrhoea. The bacteria takes around a week to show the symptoms. The loss of fluids may cause severe infection to people with weak immune system. Aged people and very young should follow preventions as the severity increases in them. Packed dairy products and juices can carry them and may contaminate the body with the bacteria.
Good personal hygiene and effective sanitation may prevent food and water from being contaminated with these pathogens. Purifying water before drinking and washing vegetables and other eatables well before cooking, can save you many years altogether.
Do not get counted as an infected. As Prevention is better than cure, following strict prevention may lead you a healthy life.