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Water-borne diseases

The term ‘waterborne disease’ is often used loosely, to describe all diseases carried by water. Strictly, water-borne diseases are those in which the infectious agent is itself carried by water: diarrhoeal diseases including typhoid, cholera and dysentery; and infectious hepatitis. Other diseases are water-washed: skin diseases such as yaws, scabies, leprosy; eye diseases such as trachoma; or waterrelated, in which case the disease is spread via an organism living in water, such as schistosomiasis (via snails) and guinea-worm; they may be insect related, in which case they are spread by an insect that breeds in water or bites near it, such as sleeping sickness (tsetse fly), malaria and yellow fever (mosquito), river blindness (blackfly). Other diseases are spread by poor sanitation; pathogens in human excreta remain exposed or are washed into waterways. These include all diarrhoeal diseases and parasites such as hookworm and roundworm. Many factors in basic water supplies and sanitation projects and irrigation schemes need to take disease control into account.

Further information, consult WHO and UNICEF; 223 also Guidelines for Forecasting the Vector-borne Disease Implications of Water Resources.

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