Water can forsake its role as a life-giving resource and become quite deadly via being a prime carrier of disease. Polluted water is riddled with bacteria, and if it comes into contact with humans they can become infected with deadly biological diseases.
Giadiasis is an infection that affects the small intestine and is caused by the organism (protozoa), Giardia lamblia. This biological disease is spread via water that is tainted with raw sewage or animal feces. For example in an individual decided to drink from a stream that had been contaminated by beavers and muskrats, or sheep then they could contract this disease. Once a person has become infected symptoms will typically occur within 7-14 days. The symptoms of this biological disease include:
- Abdominal pain
- Gas or bloating
- Loss of appetite
- Low-grade fever
- Swollen or distended abdomen
Diagnosis can be determined via the following methods, an endoscopy, Stool antigen test to check for Giardia and a Stool ova and parasites exam.
These biological diseases may dissipate without the need of treatment, but sometimes Anti-infective medicines will be administered.
Hepatitis A is characterized by the swelling of the liver due to the hepatitis A virus. These biological diseases can spread through drinking or eating food or water that has been contaminated by feces carrying the hepatitis A virus. Common sources of contamination are ice, shellfish, fruit and vegetables. There are conditions/situations that make a person more liable in contracting this infection, such as International travel, Asia or South or Central America are high risk regions, IV drug use, Living in a nursing home or rehabilitation centre and Working in a health care, food, or sewage industry. Symptoms of this disease will typically manifest 2 - 6 weeks after exposure to the virus, and they include the following:
- Dark urine
- Loss of appetite
- Low-grade fever
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pale or clay-colored stools
- Yellow skin (jaundice)
To diagnosis this biological diseases the health professional will conduct a thorough physical examination. If your liver is tender and enlarged it may mean you have Hepatitis A. Blood tests will be performed to verify diagnosis via Elevated liver enzymes and raised IgM and IgG antibodies.
There is no definite treatment for this infection, there is only ways to minimise the symptoms. These include plenty of rest; avoid alcohol and any substances that are toxic to the liver, and to avoid fatty foods.
Dracunculiasis is an infection with Dracunculus medinensis, a nematode worm. It is spread to humans via the ingestion of water that contains water fleas (Cyclops species) that have ingested Dracunculus larvae. Once the fleas have been ingested our stomach acids will eradicate the fleas, but the nematode worm will remain unharmed. It will find itself into the small intestine and from that location will move into the body cavity. Here it will stay for the next 10-14 months, growing in size till it reaches around 60-100 centimetres. Once this adult female nematode worm has reached full size it will move to a specific location in the human body, typically the lower limbs. An outward sign of this infection is a blister where the worm will emerge, which is characterized by a very painful burning sensation and it will rupture within 24-72 hours. Additional symptoms at the time of the blister are a fever, nausea, and vomiting. There is no medication or vaccine to treat or prevent this disease. The only course of action is to slowly pull the worm out once it emerges via the blister site. This can be extremely painful, and the pain may be dulled with available painkillers. Swelling can be decreased via painkillers such as aspirin or ibuprofen, and antibiotic ointment can help prevent bacterial infections.
Tips and comments
In order to prevent being infected by these waterborne biological diseases it is a good idea to be hygienic with your water. This means you should use a water purification method such as boiling, filtration, or iodine treatment before drinking surface water.