The Health Effects of Microbial Contaminants

Viruses are spread through the faecal-oral route. They cause infection of the respiratory and gastro-intestinal tracts. Such viruses include rotavirus, adenovirus, Hepatitis A & E, enterovirus and Norwalk virus. Illnesses caused by these viruses are extensive and they include heart disease, paralysis, diarrhoea, meningitis, hepatitis and fever, writes Laurent P. et al, in Household Drinking Water Systems and Their Impact on People with Weakened Immune Systems (Feb,2005. p42-3 ). An infected person excretes these viruses through faecal

matter and once in the atmosphere, they can survive for quite a long time before dying. Adenoviruses These are viruses that have double stranded DNA. Study shows that there are 49 adenoviruses that can cause infection to man. Depending on the serotype, they cause diseases such as cystitis, conjunctivitis, rashes on the skin and gastroenteritis. However, they commonly attack the respiratory tract causing respiratory illness to the victim. When one contracts respiratory illness, the symptoms are usually a common cold, pneumonia and

bronchitis (Laurent P. et al. p42). People with weak immune systems are even more vulnerable. Their complications will be more severe, with a mortality rat for up to 50%. In children, adenoviruses 40 and 41cause gastroenteritis write Crabtree et al in Waterborne Adenovirus: a risk assessment (1997). Of all the viruses, Adenovirus is one of the most opportunistic pathogen and causes infection to more than 10% of those infected with the HIV virus. According to research, these infections usually lead to death to up to 45% of the victims. Rotaviruses

They are wheel shaped, aren’t enveloped and have double shells. They are most common in children and infants, attacking the intestines causing severe diarrhoea. Rotaviruses attack children all over the globe, no matter the level of hygiene, however, death rate is higher in developing countries. It also attacks those advanced in age and those whose immune systems have been compromised. Symptoms are abdominal pains, fever, watery diarrhoea and vomiting. During this time, the patients lose a lot of water due to the discharge of fluids, they therefore also suffer from dehydration.

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