Access to clean water is one of the major factors contributing to water borne diseases, along with water storage contamination and insufficient levels of hygiene. Water borne diseases are defined as bacteria, viruses and other parasites contracted by consumption of water. 74% of all deaths in Cambodia are related to water borne diseases (RDI – Cambodia) and diarrheal diseases (chiefly Cholera) being the number one cause of death and disease in children (NIS 2000).
Asiatic cholera, Vibrio cholerae or more commonly Cholera is a particular aggressive bacterial type of Gastroenteritis which is considered an epidemic in Cambodia by the UNICEF. Its symptoms are profuse watery stool which cause the onset of severe dehydration. Malnutrition is catalysed which increases the susceptibility of other diseases as well as increasing the severity of the symptoms of diarrhoea. Cholera may cause the onset of death in as little as 3 hours of symptoms being present without treatment (Ryan KJ 2004) but more commonly results in death of Cambodian children within 1-2 days of the onset of symptoms (UNICEF – 2007). Given sufficient fluids most healthy people can make a full recovery.
Escherichia coli more often known as E. Coli is a mostly harmless bacteria strain commonly found in the lower intestine of warm blooded mammals. E Coli is widely used as the main quantitative measurement for bacterial contamination of a water source and its presence normally indicates additional biological activity. Most viral strains of the bacterium results in food poisoning and results in no more than a bout of diareahoa to a health human being. Particular strains O157:H7 or O111:B4 can cause serious illness or death in the elderly, the very young or the immune deficient.
Hepatitis A is an acute infectious disease of the liver. The virus is spread by the fecal-oral route and has a transmission process similar to E. Coli. The most common transmission process in Cambodia is a person’s hands coming into contact with faeces then into direct contact with water supplies, water storage reservoirs or food. Symptoms include loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhoea, pain in the liver and Jaundice. Symptoms commonly last several weeks but most people make a rapid recovery with a mortality rate of less than 0.5% on the western world.