The Health Effects of Microbial Contaminants in Drinking Water

Microbial contaminants are very small organisms that cannot be seen by the naked eye. These organisms found in drinking water cause harmful health effects. Among them are viruses, bacteria and protozoa. These are enteric pathogens that majorly cause diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pains and in the following pages, we will see that some even cause death if not eliminated from the host’s body. Most of these pathogens are transmitted through the faecal oral route. In AIDS patients whose immune systems have already been compromised, the infections are usually more severe than for the patients who were

previously healthy. Microbial contamination is high in developing countries especially in slum areas where sanitation is usually not adequate, in refugee camps Internally Displaced People (IDP) camps and hospitals. These pathogens also cause meningitis and paralysis. Microbial Contaminants: The Health Effects of Microbial Contaminants in Drinking Water Drinking water contains many microbes. Some are beneficial to the body like the normal gut flora which produce vitamin B12 in the gut and aid in digestion of food, but, some are harmful.

The harmful microbes majorly cause gastro-intestinal diseases. The municipal council treats water to remove the contaminants before the water is piped to various communities for use. Other methods of treatment may be used but chlorine proves to be the most effective when trying to get rid of these pathogens. Treatment of water leads to prevention of waterborne diseases such as typhoid and cholera. Bacterial and viral contamination of water is caused by faecal matter, which might either be from animals or humans. Examples of parasites found in drinking water which cause contamination are Giardia

and Cryptosporidium, which are majorly from animal faecal matter. The reason why chlorination is more effective as a way of treating drinking water is that some parasites are resistant to other modes of treatment such as disinfection and filtration. An outbreak of Cryptosporidium causes nausea, sever diarrhoea and stomach cramps. This harmful microbe is a single-celled agent that is passed through human or animal faeces. Cryptosporidium oocysts when ingested cause irritation of the digestive tract hence the severe diarrhoea. A

normal healthy person heals faster when but little children and those with cancer or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) are at a greater risk because their immune system is weak. Apart from filtration and disinfection, drinking water is usually boiled to kill harmful pathogens. However, cryptosporidium is more dangerous than most pathogens hence has the ability to resist these ways of treatment. The oocysts are even resistant to chlorination, therefore, the municipal council has ensured that drinking water’s turbidity is strengthened so

that communities can receive better filtered water. Fluoride is essential in water as it aids in the strengthening of bones especially in infants, however, in large amounts it can prove to be a danger. It causes crippling skeletal flourosis, which is a permanent condition in some parts of the world like Asia and Africa. In excess, it damages the teeth, causing the enamel to wear and fracture. The pathogens found in water (bacteria, viruses, protozoa and helminthes) if not removed during treatment cause harmful effects.

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