The list of water and food borne diseases are tall. However some important ones are mentioned here which spread by water and food like amoebic and bacillary dysentery, cholera, typhoid and paratyphoid, gastroenteritis (inflammation of alimentary tract), Hepatitis A virus (HAV) and Hepatitis E virus (HEV), round worm, whip worm etc.
How the water and food borne diseases spread?
The above mentioned water and food borne diseases spread via contaminated water and food by the affected water and food handlers. People engaged in cutting, processing, cooking these food items do not follow simple hygiene procedure before preparation of the food. Water and other soft drinks, fruit juices prepared in different house hold places and in some large factories also do not maintain the minimum standards for preparation of these items. The patients take food and water from these installations and infected with these diseases.
Risks associated with these diseases
There are many health risks, social and financial implications of these water and food borne diseases.
If a patient develops diarrhoea, his electrolyte level is down and if he is not administered with oral fluid replacement, his life may be in great danger. Diarrhoea and dysentery leads to huge loss of fluid, electrolytes, essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals etc. which are essential for normal development. Deficiency of these will lead to anemia, malnutrition, improper physical and mental growth and development. Administration of proper drugs prescribed by physician is vital for some cases, otherwise the disease may turn to chronic case and may cause increased morbidity in the patient.
Most of the acute dysenteries can be cured properly if diagnosed early and appropriate medicine is prescribed by physician. However, indiscriminate use of anti dysenteric drugs by pharmacy people, self, family members has lead to the increased chronic dysentery in Bangladesh. Long term complications may develop in acute and chronic patients if not treated properly.
Typhoid and paratyphoid fevers are very serious disease and unless diagnosed promptly and treated properly the patient may develop serious complications which may even be fatal.
Besides, the patient may go to chronic stage and may suffer from this diseases for long.
Jaundice due to HAV is common in children and due to HEV is common in adults. These hepatitis are water and food borne unlike their other two counterparts like hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C (HCV) which are transmitted by use of shared needles, blood transfusion, surgery, sexual contacts and with other body fluids like mucous, saliva etc.
How we can prevent these diseases?
Preventive measures are always better than curative measures. Simple following of hygiene and application of common sense is sufficient to reduce morbidity and mortality from these diseases.
Preventive measures includes—
a. Washing of hands with hand soap, soap, ashes after each use, before each meal.
b. Cutting of nail properly every week. This is a simple but very important measure to prevent water and food borne diseases.
c. Boiling of water, purification of water with purifying tablets, use of mineral water, supply of safe drinking water.
d. Avoid taking food from outside unhygienic hotels, restaurants, food courts, road side food shop. Try to take home made food as much as you can.
e. If at all anyone has to take food from outside hotel look for the cleanliness, hygienic preparation of food, proper food serving. Whether the food is covered properly or not the hygiene of the bearers, cook, table boy etc.
f. Try to avoid coloured food, Junk food, Ice cream from outside unless you are very sure that these foods are prepared in a hygienic way.
g. Once you are suffering from these diseases go to the physician as early as possible, arrange early diagnosis and take appropriate medicine to combat.
h. Effective inspection by sanitary and food inspectors should be taken by appropriate authority and ensure that strict hygienic measure are taken to prepare food in different installations.
i. Avoid addition of coloring & flavoring agent, dyes, chemicals completely in the food.
j. Mobile courts should continue and monitor the adulteration drive programme time to time.
k. Media like Television, Radio, Newspaper should publish articles on different aspect of healthy food preparation and aware the people of different water and food borne diseases time to time.