Water Borne Diseases Prevention

by Sam Malone


Water borne diseases are cause for the deaths of millions of people every year. Consuming water that contains pathogenic microorganisms causes water borne diseases. In most developing countries, water borne diseases are the main cause of childhood death, especially with diarrhea.

Flood waters carry human and animal feces, silt, toxic chemical wastes, oil, and other suspended particles with it. The occurrence of infectious diseases associated with drinking water like diarrhea and dysentery is quite common. Thus, it is necessary to focus on the prevention of waterborne diseases by conditioning the water and making it fit for human consumption.

Water borne diseases are contagious and prevention of waterborne diseases requires high standards of hygiene and sanitation. In order to be acquainted with the ways to avoid water borne diseases, it is essential to first know how infection takes place.

The microorganisms present in human or animal waste enter into the human body and cause waterborne diseases. The most common way by which the spreading of microorganisms takes place is through drinking contaminated water. However, apart from that, water borne diseases can be spread through other means such as via clothes, hands, foods, materials used for cooking, eating, and drinking. Pathological microorganisms can enter the body through an open wound, eyes, and nose as well. Typhoid fever, dysentery, diarrhea, cholera, hepatitis, worms, and polio are some of the widespread water borne diseases.

Water borne diseases are extremely harmful and lead to severe illness and may even be fatal. They lower the body’s resistance and intake of nourishment, resulting in further infections and diseases. Therefore, prevention of waterborne diseases is vital.

How Water Borne Disease Transmitted?

Most of the people get infected when the contaminated material enters their mouth. Other possible modes of transmission include:

  • Dirty contaminated hands, clothes, cooking vessels, mugs, etc.
  • Uncovered food and drinking water
  • Contaminated water
  • The practice of defecating in the open
  • Via flies

Ways to Avoid These Diseases

In order to prevent infectious water borne diseases, it is important to take necessary precautions. The quality of water should be improved at the source itself. In certain areas, the quality of water supply might be of question. In such cases, it is necessary to disinfect the water before use. Water that is used for all purposes like drinking, cooking, and brushing of teeth should be disinfected properly. The common household ways to avoid water borne diseases by disinfection include:

Vigorously boiling water for one minute can kill most microorganisms.

Common household items such as chlorine bleach, tincture of iodine, and iodine tablets can be used to disinfect water.

Another important measure that should be taken to avoid the spreading of pathological microorganisms is the interruption of routes of transmission such as protecting food from flies, chlorination of water, and maintaining proper sanitation, etc. It is vital to change ensure proper hygiene in order to avoid waterborne diseases.

  • Drink only filtered/bottled water.
  • Wash hands properly before eating.
  • Wash the containers daily.
  • Eat cooked, warm foods.
  • Keep your fingernails short and clean.
  • Use of proper toilets for defecation.
  • Wash food before cooking and cook food at high temperature so as to kill harmful bacteria.
  • Avoid flies by disposing animal and organic wastes properly.
  • Ensure to take proper care in disposing of infant and toddler feces.
  • Avoid consuming foods, fruit juices, and milkshakes from roadside vendors.
  • Always keep foods and beverages closed.
  • Avoid drinking water at parks and other such recreational places. It is best to buy bottled water or carry your own water.
  • Another common place where one can put oneself at risk of contracting water borne illnesses is hospitals as they can be breeding grounds of pathogenic microorganism. Always sanitize your hands and bath after visiting a hospital.
  • Rivers and creeks can be breeding grounds for bacteria; avoid swimming in such waters.
  • Washing hands is the most important method of prevention of waterborne diseases. One should wash hands before preparing food and before eating. Likewise, it is necessary to wash hands after using the toilet, changing diapers, after using handkerchief, after changing clothes or beddings soiled with feces, after caring people with water borne illness, and after playing with pets and animals.

Travelers are most likely to contract water borne illnesses, and here are certain tips that can help to lessen the chances of getting ill.

  • Ensure to drink only bottled water. Check for any sign of tampering.
  • Avoid ice cubes as these are a major source of contaminated water.
  • Avoid eating uncooked food.

To prevent the spreading of waterborne illnesses, people suffering from waterborne illness should be confined to themselves from work until symptoms have subsided.

References:

  1. http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/emergency/hygiene/index.html
  2. http://www.azdhs.gov/phs/oids/epi/disease/waterborne/recreational.htm
  3. http://www.tdi.texas.gov/pubs/videoresource/fswaterborne.pdf

Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
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