Unsafe water can lead to the spread of a variety of waterborne illnesses, diarrheal disease, is one of the biggest health concerns among these. Diarrheal disease kills nearly 850,000 people each year, approximately 525,000 of which are children under the age of five (1,2). That equates to the deaths of 60 children every hour, from a disease that is largely preventable if clean drinking water and proper sanitation is in place.
The four most prevalent diarrhea-causing pathogens seen in the developing world include rotavirus, Cryptosporidium, Shigella, and a strain of E. coli known as ST-ETEC (3). Diarrhea can be caused by the ingestion of these bacterial and parasitic pathogens, typically because of a fecal-contaminated water source or poor sanitation conditions. The chart to the right details some of the processes that can lead to the spread of these pathogens.
How do you know if you are experiencing a diarrheal disease? Diarrhea is formally categorized as having 3 liquid stools per day, but there are several signs and symptoms (6):
Loose, watery stool
Increased frequency of bowel movements of loose, watery nature
Potential blood in the stool
Cramps or pain in the abdomen
Diarrhea can persist for several days, causing the body to lose fluids and essential nutrients through liquid stool, vomit, sweat, and urine (2). In fact, severe dehydration is the main cause of diarrhoeal deaths and can be compounded by factors such as malnutrition, often a very prevalent reality for children who suffer from diarrheal disease (7). If suffering from diarrheal disease, treatments should focus on rehydration and restoration of salts and electrolytes (2).
https://ourworldindata.org/child-mortality – GRAPH PIC
https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/global/diarrhea-burden.html – PATHWAYS PIC