It’s world water day:Here’s what to know about water borne illness

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Globally 1.8 million people consume water that is contaminated with faeces

Water borne illnesses are portable water and recreational water associated diseases.

Water outbreak agents are bacterial, viral , parasitic and chemical agents that cause water borne diseases

Routes of transmission
Water borne illnesses are gotten from contaminated water by ingestion or consumption of water, through dermal contact, which is contact of the water with skin or mucous membranes or through inhalation, by breathing in mist or aerosolised water particles.

Water facts

  • In 2015, 91% of the world’s population had access to an improved drinking-water source, compared with 76% in 1990.
  • 2.6 billion people have gained access to an improved drinking water source since 1990.
  • 4.2 billion people now get water through a piped connection; 2.4 billion access water through other improved sources including public taps, protected wells and boreholes.
  • 663 million people rely on unimproved sources, including 159 million dependent on surface water.
  • Globally, at least 1.8 billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with faeces.
  • Contaminated water can transmit diseases such diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. Contaminated drinking-water is estimated to cause 502 000 diarrhoeal deaths each year.
  • By 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas.
  • In low- and middle-income countries, 38% of health care facilities lack improved water source, 19% do not have improved sanitation and 35% lack water and soap for hand washing.

The burden of unsafe water

Almost one tenth of the global disease burden could be prevented by:

  • Increasing access to safe drinking water
  • Improving sanitation and hygiene
  • Improving water management to reduce risks of water-borne infectious diseases, and accidental drowning during recreation.

Annually, safer water could prevent:

  • 1.4 million child deaths from diarrhoea
  • 500 000 deaths from malaria
  • 860 000 child deaths from malnutrition
  • 280 000 deaths from drowning
  • 5 million people from being seriously incapacitated from lymphatic filariasis and another 5 million from trachoma.

Examples of water borne diseases are mentioned below:

Parasitic diseases

1.Amoebiasis

Causative agent

  • Entamoeba histolytica

Mode of water contamination

  • Sewage getting to drinking water
  • Non treated drinking water
  • Flies contaminating water supply

Symptoms of infection

  • Diarrhoea
  • Fever
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Weight loss

2.Cryptosporidiosis

Causative agent

  • Cryptosporidium parvum

Mode of water contamination

  • Usually collects on water filters and membranes that cannot be disinfected
  • Animal manure
  • Seasonal runoff of water

Symptoms of infection

  • Usually self-limiting but can be severe in immune compromised persons
  • Watery diarrhoea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle aches
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Flu-like symptoms

3.Cyclosporiasis

Causative agent

  • Cyclospora cayetanensis

Mode of water contamination

  • Sewage contaminating water supplly
  • Non-treated drinking water

Symptoms of infection

  • Cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle aches
  • Fever
  • Fatigue

4.Giardiasis

Causative organism

  • Giardia lamblia

Source of water contamination

  • Untreated water
  • Poor disinfection of water
  • Pipe breaks and pipe leaks
  • Groundwater contamination

Symptoms of infection

  • Diarrhoea
  • Intestinal malabsorbtion
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Microsporidiosis

5.Microsporidiosis

Causative organism

  • Microsporidia
  • Mostly affects immunocompromised persons like AIDS patients

Mode of water contamination

  • Causative organism has been found in ground water,the origin of drinking water

Symptoms of infection

  • Chronic diarrhoea
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss
  • Keratoconjuctivitis
  • Myositis
  • Hepatitis

Diseaeases caused by bacteria

1.Botulism

Causative agent

  • Clostridium botulinum

Mode of water contamination

  • The organism can enter an open wound from contaminated water
  • Can enter the gastrointestinal tract through consumption of contaminated drinking water or food

Symptoms of infection

  • Dry mouth
  • Blurred vision or double vision
  • Difficulty with swallowing
  • Muscle weakness
  • Slurred speech
  • Vomiting

2.Campylobacteriosis

Causative agent

  • Mostly Campylobacter jejuni

Mode of water contamination

  • Drinking water contaminated with faeces
    Symptoms of infection
  • Produces dysentery like symptoms along with a high fever
  • Usually lasts 2–10 days.

3.Cholera

Causative organism

  • Vibrio cholerae

Mode of water contamination

  • Drinking water contaminated with the bacterium

Symptoms of infection

  • Can be very severe
  • Watery diarrhoea
  • Nausea
  • Cramps
  • Nose bleed
  • Rapid pulse
  • Hypovolemic shock
  • In severe cases death can occur in 12–18 hours

4.E. coli Infection

Causative agent

  • Some strains of Escherichia coli

Mode of water contamination

  • Water contaminated with the bacteria

Symptoms of infection

  • Mostly diarrhoea
  • Can lead to death in immunocompromised individuals, the very young, and the elderly due to dehydration from prolonged illness.

5.M. marinum infection

Causative agent

  • Mycobacterium marinum

Mode of water contamination

  • The organism is naturally occuring in water
  • Most cases are from exposure in swimming pools or aquariums

Symptoms of infection

  • Manifests as lesions typically located on the elbows, knees, and feet for infections gotten from swimming pools
  • Lesions are typically located on the hands for infections gotten from aquariums
  • The lesions may be painless or painful.

Diseases caused by viruses

1.SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome)

Causative agent

  • Coronavirus

Mode of water contamination

  • Usually manifests in improperly treated water

Symptoms of infection

  • Fever
  • Myalgia
  • Lethargy
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Cough and sore throat

2.Hepatitis A Infection

Causative agent

  • Hepatitis A virus (HAV)

Source of water contamination

  • Faecal contamination of drinking water

Symptoms of infection

  • Usually acute, hepatitis A does not run a chronic course
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Weight loss
  • Itching
  • Jaundice

3.Poliomyelitis (Polio)

Causative agent

  • Poliovirus

Mode of water contamination

  • Enters water through the faeces of infected people

Symptoms of infection

  • 90-95% of people have no symptoms
  • 4-8% have minor symptoms like delirium, headache, fever, and occasional seizures or spastic paralysis,
  • 1% have symptoms of non-paralytic aseptic meningitis.
  • The rest have serious symptoms resulting in paralysis or death

Author: Faisol Oladosu

Faisol - founder of Ajipe.com

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