Top 10 Waterborne Diseases that can be Caused by Polluted Water

Water is often referred as the elixir of life. Life could not have existed on the planet earth in the absence of water. Water, in its purest form, is a blessing for all life forms. But due to water pollution and contamination, it can also cause severe infections and diseases due to the lack of proper sanitation, water supply and management, and that particularly more in summer and rainy seasons. A report by the United Nations says that more than three million people in the world die of water related diseases due to contaminated water each year, including 1.2 million children. These waterborne diseases are mainly caused by impure groundwater and freshwater supplied by the municipal corporations infected due to high concentrations of iron, fluoride, leading to fluoroscopic, salinity and arsenic, which leads to arsenic, exceeding the tolerance levels.

Here is a list to the top ten waterborne diseases in terms of their incidences worldwide:

1. Cholera

Lifewater teaches proper hand washing in developing countries.

Cholera is characterized by muscle cramps, vomiting and diarrhea. Being diarrhea in nature, it can kill the infected person within hours if left unattended. The deadly disease is caused due to ingestion of water infected with the Vibrio Cholera bacterium and is spread by fecal contamination of food and water. It can very quickly cause electrolyte imbalance and dehydration of the body tissues and is also known as “Blue Death” because the patient’s skin turns bluish gray due to excessive loss of body fluids and can result in shiftlessness cramping and weakness, altered consciousness, seizures, or even coma due to electrolyte losses and ion shifts.

2. Diarrhea

Woman suffer from stomach pain

Diarrhea is defined by the World Health Organization as having three or more loose or liquid stools per day, or as having more stools than is normal for that person. This disease spreads through food and drinking water that has been contaminated and can last up to two weeks and leave the victim completely dehydrated. Oral Dehydration Solutions (ORS) with modest amounts of salts and zinc tablets are one of the best remedies to relinquish the body fluids of the infected person.

3. Malaria

Malaria is an often fatal disease spread by the Plasmodium parasite mosquito that breeds in water bodies like lakes, paddy, fish ponds and stagnant water and can kill those with a weak immunity. The causal protozoan of malaria are carried by the female Anopheles mosquito. The symptoms of the disease start appearing after about eight to twenty five days of infection and include headache, fever, muscular fatigue and pain, back pain, dry cough, nausea and vomiting, spleen enlargement and chills and excessive sweating. Malaria can be treated with anti-malarial medications given orally or through vaccinations.

4. Typhoid fever

Two children bathe in a pond in Cambodia

Typhoid is known by numerous names such as gastric fever, abdominal typhus, infantile remittance fever, slow fever, nervous fever and pathogenic fever.The bacterium that causes typhoid fever may be spread through poor hygiene habits and public sanitation conditions, and sometimes also by flying insects feeding on feces. characterized by fluctuating high fever,headache, constipation, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal rashes, exhaustion, sleepiness, diarrhea, etc- spreads through contaminated food and water or via close contact with an infected person. The fever generally continues to peak for three weeks and then gradually subsides by the fourth and the fifth week.

5. Filariasis

Parasitic mushroom grows on a stem of tree

It is parasitic disease caused by , first documented in the 16th century by Jan Huyghen van Linschoten, that affects people who live near unsanitary water bodies or sewage and its carriers are black flies and mosquitoes that breed in fresh and stagnant water bodies and are the host of the filarial nematode worm. This worm affects human adversely and leads to elephantiasis. This particular disease is symptomatic with edema with thickening of the skin and underlying tissues, having a more severe effect on the limbs. Also known as Lymphatic Filariasis, it can be diagnosed in amicrofilaraemic cases based on clinical observations and, in some cases, by finding a circulating antigen in the blood or by identifying microfilarae on a Giemsa stained thick blood film.

6. Dysentery

It is an inflammation of the intestine featured by the frequent passage of feces with blood and mucus and is spread by fecal contamination of food and water- is most commonly caused by a bacterium called Shigella or an amoeba. It is important to cure the symptoms of dysentery as well as the dehydration caused by it in the body with oral dehydration salts or intravenous fluids. The best and the easiest way to avoid the occurrence of this disease is to maintain proper hygiene. Only filtered and well boiled water should be consumed and hands should be washed with an anti bacterial soap before eating food and post defecation. Proper sewage disposal and treatment systems should be installed and maintained.

7. Viral Gastroenteritis

Viral gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the stomach and intestines caused by one of any number of viruses. Also known as stomach flu, this disease can be caused by virus, through spreads through close contact with people who are infected, or through contaminated food or water. The symptoms include gastrointestinal discomfort, sweating, clammy skin, diarrhea, vomiting, fever and headache. The treatment for gastroenteritis includes employing antibiotics, antimetics and dietary improvisations.

8. Hepatitis

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, most commonly caused by a viral infection. There are five main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. It is caused by different viruses for different categories of the disease such as the Hepatitis A virus (HAV) and the Hepatitis B Virus (HAV) is present in the faeces of infected persons and is most often transmitted through consumption of contaminated water or food. Whereas the Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is transmitted through exposure to infective blood, semen, and other body fluids. HBV can be transmitted from infected mothers to infants at the time of birth or from family member to infant in early childhood. Transmission may also occur through transfusions of HBV-contaminated blood and blood products, contaminated injections during medical procedures, and through injection drug use. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is mostly also transmitted through exposure to infective blood. But interestingly, Hepatitis D virus (HDV) infections occur only in those who are infected with HBV. The common symptoms for all the five types include chills, fever, jaundice, dark urine and abdominal discomfort.

9. Amoebiasis

This disease is caused by the amoeba Entamoeba histolytica and can result in fatigue, diarrhea, flatulence, abdominal discomfort and weight loss as its common symptoms. It is a gastrointestinal infection with a tendency to be inactive, for years sometimes, showing no or very few signs of the occurrence of the infection. The disease had been an endemic in some backward regions in the past, leading to deaths of 40,000 to 100,000 people worldwide.

10. Giardiasis

Also known as beaver fever, giardiasis is caused by a protozoa. The symptoms of this rather very harmful disease are diarrheal, loss of appetite, hematuria, loose or watery stool, stomach cramps, upset stomach and projectile vomiting, which is a bit uncommon. There can also be instances of bloating, excessive gas, and sulfurous burping along with abdominal discomfort and is passed via the fecal-oral route. Usually metronidazole, albendazole, and tinidazole are used for its treatment but otherwise it is not necessary as the infection generally subsides by itself. Giardiasis is also suspected to be zoonotic, that is, very easily communicable between humans and other animals. The major hosts of the causing protozoa include beavers, dogs, cats, horses, humans, cattle and birds.

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