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 Water & Hydration

May 2012
Old Issues & New Risks In Clean Water
Dr Suneetha Narreddy
Water-borne diseases are illnesses caused and transmitted by the use and consumption of contaminated water. Irrespective of the Old Issues & New Risks In Clean Water Dr Suneetha Narreddy cause and point of water contamination, infections are picked up in the course of basic everyday activities like drinking water, preparation and consumption of food, bathing and washing.

The long list of water related diseases and conditions include Anaemia, Ascariasis, Botulism, Diarrhoea, Dracunculiasis, Fluorosis, Hookworm infection, Japanese encephalitis, Lymphatic filariasis, Malaria, Malnutrition, Polio, Ring Worm, Tinea, Scabies, Schistomiasis. But prevalently, the most common and the most troublesome of water related diseases, in terms of public health or health of a community are:

  • Typhoid fever
  • Cholera
  • Leptospirosis
  • Hepatitis A
There is also the increased risk of infection or water-borne diseases contracted through direct contact with polluted waters. Among them are:
  • Wound infections
  • Dermatitis
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Ear, nose and throat infections
Transmission: Public or private drinking water systems may be contaminated with urine and faeces of people or animals. This is likely to occur where surface water is the source of public and private drinking water systems. Water collected from rain, creeks, rivers, lakes - all account for surface water. Runoff from landfills, septic fields, sewer pipes, residential or industrial developments can also sometimes contaminate surface water.

Prevention: Clean water is a prerequisite for reducing the spread of water-borne diseases. It is well recognised that the prevalence of water-borne diseases can be greatly reduced by giving due attention to the quality of drinking water and the safe disposal of faeces.
Dr Suneeta Narreddy Consultant, Infectious Medicine, Apollo Health City, Hyderabad.

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