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What Are Waterborne Diseases and How to Prevent Them?

  • December 20, 2022

Waterborne diseases continue to be the leading cause of death and morbidity in the world. Over 95% of waterborne diseases are preventable, and their abolition should be our primary objective. Although the fundamentals of sanitation and drinking water treatment are well understood, billions of people are denied access to these basic resources due to a lack of financial capital, commitment, and appropriate needs assessment. Evolving pathogens resistant to water treatment systems, and chemical contaminants, quantifying endemic and epidemic waterborne diseases, and understanding environmental links are all obstacles to overcome. Satellite imaging and new mathematical tools, for example, are providing new insights into waterborne diseases and consistent scientific research can help reduce the fatalities caused by these illnesses.

What are Waterborne Diseases?

Water-borne diseases are caused by pathogenic microbes that spread through contaminated water. Transmission of these pathogens occurs when people drink contaminated water, prepare food, and wash their clothes, among other things. Many developing nations lack adequate water treatment plants, particularly in rural areas. In some areas, water is so limited that people do not have the resources or time to invest in water purifiers or other water treatment mechanisms.

Types of Waterborne Diseases

Waterborne diseases come in a variety of forms, each with a distinct set of symptoms and treatment possibilities. The following are the most common types of waterborne diseases:

Typhoid Fever - Salmonella typhi bacteria cause typhoid fever, which is spread through polluted water. Patients typically experience long - lasting bouts of fever, loss of appetite, nausea, headache, constipation, and weight loss. To cure typhoid in the patient and prevent the spread of this contagious disease, immediate attention is required.

Cholera - It is primarily caused by the bacteria Vibrio cholerae, which is ingested through contaminated food and water. Diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal cramps are among the ailments. Cholera primarily affects children, but it can also affect adults. Between many water-borne diseases, it has an alarmingly high death rate. People with inhibited immunity, such as those who are malnourished or infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), are more likely to die if infected with the bacteria.

Hepatitis A - The Hepatitis A virus causes this condition, which primarily affects the liver. The most common route of transmission is oral, but it can also spread through physical contact with an infected person. Patients with Hepatitis A experience common symptoms such as fever, nausea, and vomiting, but if not treated promptly, they can develop serious complications.

Shigellosis - Shigellosis is a bacterial infection of the digestive tract. Shigella is a type of bacteria that causes it. Shigella bacteria spread through contaminated water and food, as well as contact with contaminated faeces. Toxins produced by the bacteria irritate the intestines, resulting in the primary symptom of diarrhoea. Shigellosis is more common in young children than in older adolescents and adults. This could be because young children frequently put their fingers in their mouths, increasing their chances of ingesting bacteria. The high number of diaper changes in day-care centers may also contribute to an increase in infection exposure in this age group.

Diarrhoea - The most basic form of all water-borne diseases, primarily affects children under the age of five. In serious conditions, symptoms include dizziness, dehydration, pale skin, and loss of consciousness. It typically lasts a couple of weeks and can be fatal if left untreated.

How are Waterborne Diseases Transmitted?

Climate change is a significant factor in the spread of such infections. Heavy precipitation, such as heavy rains or snowfall, raises the risk of water-borne diseases. Several cases of epidemic infection outbreaks following natural disasters such as floods have been documented throughout history. During floods, the overflowing of sewage treatment plants becomes an imminent threat that must be mitigated. Water shortages areas, on the other hand, become high-risk due to the accumulation of pathogens in a limited amount of available water sources.

The simple irresponsibility of the wastewater treatment plant cleaning staff can also cause significant harm to the community, particularly in small towns where people don't have water filter equipped in their homes. Furthermore, the continued use of contaminated water for agricultural purposes (due to a lack of natural water in the area) results in pathogen colonisation in the soil. Consuming crops grown in that area may expose residents to disease-causing microorganisms.

How to Prevent Waterborne Diseases?

Depending on the nature of the disease, antibacterial, antiparasitic, or antiviral medications are used to treat people with the condition. However, simple precautions to keep the environment clean can help to prevent the spread of these diseases. Maintaining basic hygiene also significantly reduces the occurrence of water-borne diseases.

Make certain that your drinking water has been filtered and purified. In addition, the water used for cooking at home should be as pure as possible. Being aware and mindful of one's surroundings, avoiding street food (especially if the preparation area is visibly dirty), and concealing and storing food safely at home are a few basic tips for preventing disease.

Governments should collect state-by-state data on the high prevalence of water-borne diseases and conduct health check-ups and awareness campaigns on a regular basis. It should be common procedure to educate and sensitise communities about the risks and common precautions. Avoiding water clogging (for example, from rain) around houses is another essential step in preventing water-borne diseases.

Self-Care Tips to Recover from Waterborne Diseases

If you suspect you are infected with a waterborne disease, seek medical attention as soon as possible. However, there are some things you can do at home to help alleviate your symptoms and keep the virus from spreading.

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, to enable your body to flush out the infectious disease. Dehydrating substances such as alcohol, coffee, and sugary beverages should be avoided.
  • Get plenty of sleep and help your body heal itself.
  • For pain relief and fever reduction, take over-the-counter prescription drugs such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
  • If your immune system is compromised, take extra precautions to avoid infections, such as avoiding contact with sick people and frequently washing your hands.

Medical Disclaimer

Any medical information referred to in or through our blog is provided as information only and is not intended:

  • as medical diagnosis or treatment
  • to replace consultation with a qualified medical practitioner

In developing countries, waterborne diseases are a major issue. Millions of people die each year as a result of waterborne illnesses. The fact of the matter is that these diseases can be avoided. We can significantly reduce the number of waterborne diseases by investing in good-quality water and sanitation facilities. Furthermore, education is critical in the prevention of these diseases. We can help prevent the spread of waterborne diseases by teaching people about hygiene and proper sanitation practises.