WATER-BORNE DISEASES, A LETHAL THREAT AMONG CHILDREN

The Philippines is a tropical country, so it is a no wonder that we get constant downpours. Rain gives us a lot of problems, from flooding the streets to landslides in the mountains, but that’s not all the worry it gives us. Children, for example, are highly susceptible to diseases carried by dirty waters, especially due to their nature of just playing around everywhere. Playing is good and all, but we should make sure that children also take care of themselves in order to prevent getting water-borne diseases.

SO WHAT ARE WATER-BORNE DISEASES?

Water-borne diseases are diseases that are transmitted via contaminated or dirty water, either orally or through wounds. Water is a good medium for bacterial or viral growth since water is designed to support the growth of disease-causing microorganisms or pathogens. Drinking contaminated water can lead to water-borne diseases, including Diarrhea, Hepatitis A, Typhoid Fever, and other serious illness.

 

The World Health Organization says that every year more than 3.4 million people die as a result of water related diseases, making it the leading cause of disease and death around the world. Most of the victims are young children, the vast majority of whom die of illnesses caused by organisms that thrive in water sources contaminated by raw sewage.

 

For children, the chances of survival dwindle in the absence of these essentials. Every day, 6,000 children die of water-related diseases. Young children are the first to get sick and die from waterborne and sanitation-related illnesses.

DIARRHEA

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One of the most common water-borne disease is Diarrhea, Diarrhea is a problem everyone is familiar with – it is one of the most common reasons for people to seek medical advice1 – but it can range from being a mild, usually temporary condition, to one that can threaten life. It is estimated that there are 2 billion cases of diarrheal disease every year globally, and that 1.9 million children below the age of 5 years, mostly in developing countries, die annually.

Squatter areas for example have rampant number of diarrhea cases, due to the poor sewage and water facilities of the area. With no provided direct water connection and a private toilet to every housing unit, drinking water lines sometimes come in contact to sewage pipes, leading to water contamination and spreading the disease throughout the community.

HOW IT WORKS

Your body tries to get rid of the E.coli as fast as it can, so instead of absorbing your food, it’s being pushed out the other end as fast as possible. Without nutrient absorption you would die of dehydration.

GOOD REMEDY

A good remedy is a simple Oral Rehydration Solution, in which a pinch of salt is added to a fistful of sugar in one liter of water.

HEPATITIS A

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Hepatitis A is contracted when a child eats food or drinks water that is contaminated with the virus or has close contact with a person who is infected with the virus. Hepatitis A is present in the stool as early as 1 to 2 weeks before a person develops the illness.

The infection can be spread in child care settings when caregivers do not observe proper sanitation and hygiene after changing the diaper of an infected baby or from infant to infant because most very young infants do not wash their hands or have their hands washed for them.

Many children infected with the hepatitis virus have few if any symptoms which are flu like such as nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and tiredness, sometimes with pain or tenderness of the liver in the upper right abdomen, meaning you might not even know that your child is sick. In fact, the younger the child, the more likely she/he is to be symptom free.

For example, among children infected with hepatitis A, only about 30% younger than 6 years have symptoms, and most of them are mild. Symptoms are more common in older children with hepatitis A, and they tend to last for several weeks.

WHAT CAN YOU DO

In most cases, no specific therapy is given for acute hepatitis. The child’s own immune system will fight and overcome the infecting virus. Your pediatrician will recommend supportive care for your child, which can include rest, a well-balanced diet, and lots of fluids.

Do not give your child acetaminophen without talking to your pediatrician first—there is a risk of toxicity because her liver may not be fully functioning. Your pediatrician may also want to reevaluate the dosages of any other medicines your child is taking. They may have to be adjusted because of changes in the liver’s ability to manage the current dosages.

TYPHOID FEVER

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Those who drink contaminated water or eat food washed in contaminated water can develop typhoid fever.

Typhoid fever is caused by pathogenic bacteria called Salmonella typhi (S. typhi). Although they’re related, S. typhi and the bacteria responsible for salmonellosis, another serious intestinal infection, aren’t the same.

FECAL-ORAL TRANSMISSION ROUTE

The bacteria that cause typhoid fever spread through contaminated food or water and occasionally through direct contact with children who are infected. In developing nations, where typhoid fever is endemic, most cases result from contaminated drinking water and poor sanitation. The majority of people in industrialized countries pick up typhoid bacteria while traveling and spread it to others through the fecal-oral route.

This means that S. typhi is passed in the feces and sometimes in the urine of infected people. You can contract the infection if you eat food handled by someone with typhoid fever who hasn’t observed proper hygiene and sanitation after using the toilet. You can become infected by drinking water contaminated with the bacteria.

TYPHOID CARRIERS

Even after treatment with antibiotics, a small number of people who recover from typhoid fever continue to harbor the bacteria in their intestinal tracts or gallbladders, often for years. These people, called chronic carriers, shed the bacteria in their feces and are capable of infecting others, although they no longer have signs or symptoms of the disease themselves.

HEALTHY TIPS

  1. Never drink untreated water
  2. Avoid eating raw foods
  3. Practice good hygiene

With these three tips, you can take necessary steps toward protecting both you and your loved ones. In the process, you’ll be able to enjoy longer health and happiness.

A simple trick to prevent nutrient and water loss and save many lives of children.

But then again, prevention is better than cure.

 

 

References/Sources:

World Health Organization. WHO: Waterborne Disease is World’s Leading Killer. Retrieved from http://www.voanews.com/a/a-13-2005-03-17-voa34-67381152/274768.html

UNICEF. Child Survival Fact Sheet: Water and Sanitation. Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/media/media_21423.html

American Academy of Pediatritians. Hepatitis A. Retrived from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/vaccine-preventable-diseases/Pages/Hepatitis-A.aspx

(2015, July 11). Mayo Clinic Staff. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/typhoid-fever/basics/causes/con-20028553

 

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