Waterborne Diseases

Recently, the World Health Organization announced they will be sending a million cholera vaccines to Haiti to prevent another outbreak. Hurricane Matthew brought winds as fast as 233 kilometres per hour to the country and caused widespread flooding as a result.

The Aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti

Waterborne diseases occur when a person ingests or comes into contact with contaminated water. Factors like major precipitation events and lack of access to clean drinking water influence the incidence of waterborne diseases. Agents of waterborne diseases include bacteria, viruses, parasites, and chemical agents. Similarly, these agents can be found in reservoirs like cows, bats, pigs, etc. 

A disease like cholera causes severe diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration. Giardiasis infects the small intestine and may or may not cause severe diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and weight loss (some individuals display no symptoms). Typhoid fever can spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and causes high fever, diarrhea, and spleen or liver enlargement.

The best preventative measures include access to clean water, sanitation, and hygienic practices like hand washing. Drinking water disinfection systems are also important to ensure safe, clean drinking water for communities.

Image result for personal filter straw

One of many new water purification techniques include The LifeStraw which contains a fine filter to remove bacteria and dirt

Still, around 946 million people worldwide still defecate outdoors in unsanitary conditions which can potentially contaminate groundwater sources. However, 91% of the world now have accessed to improved drinking water sources. All in all, there is still much work to be done (especially in developing countries) to prevent these diseases from spreading and for communities around the globe to be healthy.

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