Waterborne diseases are any illness caused by the consumption of contaminated drinking water, which contain pathogenic microorganisms. Diseases due to water pollution causes deaths of millions of people each year. In most of the developing nations, waterborne diseases are the main cause of childhood deaths, especially from diarrhea. Waterborne diseases are contagious to health and its prevention requires high standards of hygiene and sanitation. In order to be aware of the ways to avoid such diseases, it is essential to know the causes and effects of the same.
The microorganisms present in enter the water through several sources and pollute the same causing diseases due to water pollution. Waterborne diseases can be spread through several sources such as foods, a material used for cooking purposes, eating, drinking and obviously by drinking contaminated water. Some dangerous microorganisms can even enter the human body through an open wound, eyes, and nose.
Waterborne diseases are enormously harmful and can lead to severe illness and may even be fatal. They lower the body’s strength and intake of nourishment, which results in further infections and diseases. Typhoid, cholera, diarrhea, dysentery and hepatitis are some of the extensive waterborne diseases. Therefore, it is vital to be aware of the cause and effect of the same.
How Waterborne Disease Transmits?
Most of the people get ill whenever they consume contaminated material. Other possible modes of exposure include:
- Dirty contaminated hands, clothes, cooking vessels
- Uncovered food and drinking water
- Contaminated water
- The practice of excreting in the open
- Via flies
Causes of Waterborne Diseases
However, before examining their association with the harmful diseases due to water pollution, let us firstly classify the microorganisms that have been identified as one of the primary causes of such harmful diseases.
Bacterial microorganisms are the most widely dispersed since they come in several forms. Water is a natural home for every type of bacteria as their membranes have to be continuously hydrated to avoid drying-out. The E. coli 0157: anaemiaH7 is considered as the most harmful of all the disease-causing bacteria that have been identified, as it produces toxins that can destroy human intestinal cells and also anemia.
Viruses – Hepatitis A and Norwalk Virus
A virus is said to be inactive if it is free from a living host cell, but it survives even in severe environmental conditions. Once they are able to find a living host, they become active and become capable of rapid reproduction, which infects the cells of the attached host. Viruses have only one type of nucleic acid (DNA) and can survive at room temperature while attached to human hands, food and objects. Thus, the Hepatitis A virus is transmissible through stool contamination or fecal and spreads in places with lack of proper sanitation or observance of personal hygiene.
Another harmful and common type of viral pathogen is the Norwalk Virus that is prevalent during winter as it causes ‘stomach flu” or the “Winter Vomiting Disease”. The name Norwalk was taken from Norwalk, Ohio, the place where the virus was first identified in link with the outbreak of waterborne diseases.
The protozoa are commonly found in large bodies of water and have been recognized to be larger in size than the bacteria and viruses. They can survive in the toughest environmental conditions due to their ability to hide a cystic covering that provides them protection from water disinfectants.
Effects of Waterborne Diseases
Drinking of impure water can cause waterborne diseases that can be harmful to health. Some of the effects of diseases caused due to water pollution are
- Lead poisoning
- Food poisoning
The waterborne bacteria such as Vibrio cholera and E.Coli are deadly if not treated within a reasonable time. The diseases caused by these bacteria can be decreased using water purifiers, which will help in providing safe, clean and pure water.