Welcome to “Preventing Waterborne Illnesses
Ð the Major Cause of Death in Developing Countries” Hi, my name is Dr. Becky Kuhn. I’m a physician
who specializes in HIV/AIDS. Welcome to “Preventing Waterborne Illnesses Ð the Major
Cause of Death in Developing Countries” This video will teach you about the various
types of waterborne illnesses, who is affected by them, and how they can be prevented. Worldwide, over 2 billion people lack access
to a safe water supply. It is estimated that over 2 million individuals, most of them children,
die each year from preventable waterborne diseases.
That’s 14,000 deaths daily or one death every 15 seconds Ð from a completely preventable
illness. Waterborne diseases are caused by infectious
agents that can be present in the water, soil, or air. These agents include bacteria, viruses,
and parasites. The most common way these diseases affect
the body is by causing diarrhea, in addition to
other symptoms. Infants, children, the elderly, and individuals with weakened immune
systems (such as those with HIV or AIDS) are especially vulnerable to waterborne
diseases. These diseases are spread in several ways.
1) Most commonly when individuals drink impure water. In developing countries water is
often contaminated by feces containing disease causing agents from humans or animals, in
addition to other organisms. People who drink the contaminated water may develop a
waterborne illness resulting in diarrhea or other symptoms.
2) Waterborne illnesses can also spread when individuals get infectious agents on their
hands and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth. This is especially likely to occur when
people can’t or don’t wash their hands correctly. So how do you know when a person has a waterborne
disease? Symptoms include abdominal cramping, fever, vomiting, and diarrhea.
In vulnerable populations such as infants, children, the elderly, and those
with weakened immune systems, the diarrhea often
leads to severe dehydration and malnutrition, which in turn, often leads to death. How can you reduce your own risk of contracting
a waterborne disease? First, and most important, drink only clean water. Sources
of clean water include deep wells, natural streams in remote areas that have not been
contaminated by human and animal wastes upstream, urban water systems that utilize
chlorinated water, and purified water from filtration systems. The second way to reduce
your risk of contracting a waterborne disease is to wash your hands correctly, especially
before you prepare food or eat. Third, wash fruits and vegetables in clean water before
you eat them. And fourth, if you go swimming, avoid swallowing the water. How can a village or city reduce its risk
of outbreaks of waterborne illness? The most important steps are to provide everyone reliable
access to clean water and ensure that human wastes are disposed of in a way that
won’t contaminate the water supply or expose others to them. There are several ways to provide reliable
access to clean water. These include digging a
deep well, piping clean water in from a remote source, using a water filtration system, or
installing a central water treatment and chlorination facility. Waterborne illnesses are
preventable. By using modern technology and working together, we can improve water
quality for those in the most remote areas of the world. This is Dr. Becky Kuhn.