It’s recommended that we drink two and a half litres of clean water every day to keep our bodies running smoothly.
Human bodies are composed from 60% water, so it’s no surprise that water is so important – even more so than food. With this in mind it’s essential to plan ahead when going camping, travelling abroad or heading anywhere that you are unsure about the sanitation of water.
We’ve put together a list of five waterborne diseases to show why purification is so important.
Although Giardia isn’t usually a serious health problem, it can be very uncomfortable and cause stomach problems. It’s also likely that you wouldn’t notice these symptoms for a few weeks after you have been exposed. Giardia is caused by an amoebic cyst which sticks to the wall of your intestines and is likely transmitted through unsanitised water.
Another parasite, this can also cause gastrointestinal problems for those affected. For people with weaker immune systems it can even be life threatening. Cryptosporidium can be found all over the world and was even identified in Blackpool recently, with residents being recommended to boil the water from their taps.
This highly contagious bacterial infection is found in areas with poor sanitation and a lack of clean water. Stomach pains and headaches are accompanied by a bad fever and in some cases can become fatal. However, if it’s caught early, antibiotics should cure this.
A viral liver infection, this is best avoided as there is no cure and can last 2-6 months. Symptoms tend to start as aches and sickness along with a fever. As it is a liver infection you can also become jaundiced. Painkillers and a lot of rest is the best way to see out the infection.
Usually associated with food, this bacterial infection can also be transmitted through untreated water. Sickness and fever are the usual symptoms but those affected usually recover after a few days without any treatment.
All of this doesn’t make for particularly cheerful reading, but there is good news. These nasty bugs can be prevented by taking the right action.
How to purify water
Put the kettle on! This method is the best known and some would say simplest. It’s important to make sure that the water has been boiled for a good 5 minutes to ensure it is safe. Then of course you need to wait until it has cooled to drink.
A great method is to use
water purification tablets or liquid. The most widely effective is Chlorine Dioxide which has the added benefit of leaving very little after-taste. However, it is more expensive than the traditional alternative, Chlorine. Note that silver based treatments are not effective for primary water purification. They are intended to maintain the cleanliness of stored water.
Chlorine Dioxide Droplets - £7.25
These have often been developed with a specific purpose in mind. For example, in North America, often the primary concern is to take Giardia out of the water. These amoebic cysts are relatively large so can be mechanically filtered out of the water. However, the filter may not be designed to deal with smaller pathogens like viruses.
All prices correct on date of publish.