World Toilet Day 2019: 5 diseases that may become a thing of the past when India is 100% open-defecation free

9% of deaths among children under 5 can be attributed to diarrhoea - the pathogens that cause diarrhoea are transmitted through the oral-faecal route.

Myupchar November 19, 2019 07:30:28 IST
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World Toilet Day 2019: 5 diseases that may become a thing of the past when India is 100% open-defecation free
  • 9% of deaths among children under 5 can still be attributed to diarrhoea - the pathogens that cause diarrhoea are transmitted through the oral-faecal route

  • UNICEF India data shows that just one gram of faeces contains 10 million viruses, one million bacteria and 1,000 parasite cysts

  • These pathogens must be separated from our food and water chains so that several deadly infectious diseases can be prevented

Today, 19 November, is World Toilet Day: a day dedicated to inspiring “action to tackle the global sanitation crisis and help achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, which promises sanitation for all by 2030”.

India has made some headway under the Swachh Bharat Mission in terms of constructing toilets in recent years. (In October, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India is now 99% open-defecation free.) However, the fact remains that 9% of deaths among children under 5 can still be attributed to diarrhoea - the pathogens that cause diarrhoea are transmitted through the oral-faecal route.

World Toilet Day 2019 5 diseases that may become a thing of the past when India is 100 opendefecation free

Representational image. Image source: Getty Images.

UNICEF India data shows that just one gram of faeces contains 10 million viruses, one million bacteria and 1,000 parasite cysts. These pathogens must be separated from our food and water chains so that several deadly infectious diseases can be prevented.

Here’s a look at some diseases that should come under control once India is 100% open-defecation free:

Bacteria-related:

1. Typhoid is caused by Salmonella typhi bacteria and is spread through contaminated food or water sources. Symptoms include high fever, nausea, headaches, lethargy and sometimes, diarrhoea. Someone who's sick can pass the disease on by failing to maintain good hygiene. For example, if they were to prepare food without washing their hands properly after going to the loo. People can be carriers even after recovering from the illness. Vaccines are available, but only partially effective. Good personal hygiene and eating clean foods are the recommended preventive methods.

2. Cholera is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. One in ten people experiences only mild symptoms such as slight diarrhoea. However, those who get a severe form of the infection suffer severe diarrhoea which requires medical attention. Cholera is most commonly spread through contaminated water sources, seafood, or raw fruits and vegetables. The infection is less likely to spread directly from person to person because the amount of V. cholera required to cause infection is quite high. 

Virus-related:

1. Hepatitis A attacks the liver cells and causes inflammation. Symptoms include fatigue, abdominal pain under the lower ribs, clay-coloured poo and dark urine, among others. The disease is spread through contaminated food and water sources. There is an effective vaccine to prevent this disease. The disease has a good prognosis but complications can sometimes lead to liver failure.

2. Rotavirus is a highly contagious virus and is the leading cause of diarrhoea worldwide. It can be spread from hand to mouth contact or can get into the water supply and infect those who consume it. Symptoms include bloody stool, high fever and confusion. Vaccines are available to combat the disease.

Parasite-related:

1. Cryptosporidiosis is an illness caused by cryptosporidium parasites. Cryptosporidium is a resilient parasite that causes a large number of diarrhoea cases around the world; it is resistant to chlorine treatment and can survive for long periods in varying conditions. The symptoms are usually mild but in extreme cases, and without medical intervention, the disease can lead to severe dehydration. (This is because this disease causes very watery diarrhoea.) It is spread through contaminated water sources.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. For more information, please read our article on Diarrhoea: Cause and Treatment.

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