Overview: Water-borne diseases are any illness caused by drinking water, which contain pathogenic microorganisms. Over the past decades, the picture of water related human health issues has become increasingly comprehensive, with the emergence of new water related infection diseases and the re-emergence of ones already known. Data are available for some water, sanitation and hygiene related diseases, but for others such malaria, schistosomiasis the analyses remain to be done.
Problems associated: Waterborne diseases are infections, caused by bacteria, protozoa, viruses or parasites, which are transmitted by consumption of water containing these disease-causing organisms. Cholera – caused by Vibrio cholerae serogroups O1 or O139. Symptoms: profuse watery diarrhoea, vomiting, dehydration, acidosis and circulatory collapse. Due to the rapid dehydration, death in untreated individuals may occur within a few hours.
We reviewed the epidemiological and microbiological characteristics of 89 reported outbreaks of waterborne infectious intestinal disease affecting 4321 people in England and Wales over the period 1992-2003. Public water supplies were implicated in 24 outbreaks (27%), private water supplies in 25 (28%), swimming pools in 35 (39%) and other sources in five outbreaks. Cryptosporidium was implicated in 69% of outbreaks, Campylobacter sp. in 14%, Giardia in 2%, E. coli O157 in 3% and Astrovirus in 1%.
Essential to prevention efforts are clean drinking water, restaurant and meat inspection, temperature monitoring, appropriate sewage processing, monitoring of public waterways for contamination, and public education on proper hygiene. Vaccines are available for hepatitis A and typhoid fever. Most acute diarrhea episodes are self–limited. Oral or intravenous rehydration therapy may be needed, and an antimotility drug (eg, loperamide) may be useful in viral diarrhea.