Water-transmitted diseases are caused by pathogenic microbes that spread by contaminated water. Transmission of these pathogens is a common occurrence in contaminated drinking water. Many developing countries lack adequate sewage treatment facilities, particularly in rural areas. In some places, the availability of water is so rare that people do not have the time or money to pay for water purifiers or other water treatment systems.
Most waterborne illnesses primarily affect children because of poor hygiene and low immunity. Most of these diseases pose a real threat to life. Approximately 844 million people lack basic drinking water. The World Health Organization (WHO) points out that approximately 159 million people depend on surface water. Moreover, at least 2 billion people use a source of drinking water contaminated by feces. These water sources can transmit water-borne illnesses, which have been linked to approximately 502,000 diarrhoeal deaths each year.
Pathogenic microorganisms, their toxic exudates, and other contaminants, all together, cause severe conditions such as cholera, diarrhea, typhoid, amoebiasis,
hepatitis, gastroenteritis, giardiasis, campylobacteriosis, scabies, and worm infections, to name a few.
Diarrhea: is the most common of all waterborne illnesses, mainly affects children less than five years old. Symptoms include dizziness, dehydration, light skin, and loss of consciousness in serious cases. It usually lasts for a couple of weeks and can be fatal if left untreated.
Cholera: is caused by a bacterium called Vibrio cholera from contaminated water. Symptoms include diarrhœa, vomiting, fever, and abdominal cramps. Cholera occurs primarily in children but may affect adults as well. There is an alarming mortality rate among waterborne diseases. Individuals with suppressed immunity, such as those who are undernourished or infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), are at increased risk of death if infected with the bacteria.
Typhoid: Typhoid fever is due to the bacterium Salmonella typhi transmitted by contaminated water. Patients typically experience prolonged bouts of fever, loss of appetite, nausea, headache, constipation, and weight loss. Immediate attention is needed to cure typhoid in the patient and prevent the spread of this contagious illness.
Amoebiasis: It is due to a parasite called Entamoeba histolytica. The protozoan organism is transmitted by eating cysts (an inactive form of the parasite) in food and affects the gut. The parasite feeds on contaminated soil and feces. Common symptoms of amebiasis include stomach cramps and watery stool.
Hepatitis A: This disease mostly affects the liver and is caused by the hepatitis A virus. The contaminant pathway is usually oral, although it also spreads through physical contact with an infected person. Patients with hepatitis A develop common symptoms such as fever, nausea, and vomiting, but may experience serious complications if not treated promptly.
In people affected, antibacterial medicines are used for treatment according to the nature of the disease. However, routine precautions to keep the environment hygienic can do wonders to stop the spread of these illnesses. Furthermore, maintaining personal hygiene also helps to significantly reduce the incidence of waterborne illness. We need to have our drinking water filtered and purified. Furthermore, the water we use to cook at home should also be just as pure. Governments in countries where the incidence of waterborne diseases is high often conducted health and awareness campaigns. They inform and sensitize communities to joint risks and precautions. Preventing water contamination (e.g., rain) around homes is an important step in preventing water-borne illnesses.