Waterborne diseases

Waterborne diseases are caused by pathogenic microorganisms that most commonly are transmitted in contaminated fresh water. Infection commonly results during bathing, washing, drinking, in the preparation of food, or the consumption of food thus infected.

Examples of water borne diseases include Cholera, Dysentery, Typhoid Fever, Hepatitis A, Bilharzia, etc.

Symptoms of water borne diseases include fatigue, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting abdominal discomfort/pain, bloody stool, and loss of appetite, headache and fever.

Prevention is the best solution. If you travel to an area with known water borne diseases or outbreak, take precautions and consider the following tips:

  • Do not drink or sip the tap water.
  • Choose bottled water, or disinfect drinking water with chemicals.
  • Drink only filtered/boiled water.
  • Store water in a clean container,
  • Water jars/containers should be washed daily.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or a sanitizing alcohol-based solution.
  • Always wash hands before and after preparing food or eating, likewise, children should be taught on hand washing.
  • Use treated water even when washing dishes, brushing teeth, preparing food or making ice cubes.
  • Eat only well-cooked food.
  • Don’t eat sushi and undercooked or raw seafood.
  • Avoid food from street vendors.
  • Avoid raw vegetables and eat only fruits that can be peeled.
  • Avoid foods that lack acidity and are moist, such as seafood and dairy products.

Any dehydrating diarrhoea is serious, and the young and very old are particularly at risk. If a loved one has returned from a country with a known water borne disease problem and develops extreme diarrhoea, urge them to seek medical help. Their healthcare provider can treat or rule out cholera, typhoid, dysentery, as well as other potentially serious health problems.