Considering the grave threat to public health by illegal sales of soft drinks and fruit juices, the Kerala Government recently directed the Food Safety officials to act sternly against vendors engaged in the trade. Fruit stalls have been mushrooming all over the state with the onset of summer.
Among the ingredients in a beverage, the most susceptible to contamination is ice. Instructions have been given to use only pure water to make the ice to be added to juice items and other drinks. A special squad has also been deployed to ensure that this directive is followed.
The crackdown on juice stalls was ordered on the basis of a report of the Health Department which cited the incidence of waterborne diseases like jaundice from several parts of Kerala.
Bottled water, lemon juice, buttermilk, sugarcane juice, watermelon juice and various other sorts of beverages are widely available on the roadside. It has been reported that fruits are not properly cleaned before preparing the juice. Moreover, coliform bacteria spreads through ice made with contaminated water. All these cause waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid and jaundice.
They are caused when germs enter the body through the water we drink. With summer intensifying, water shortage is experienced and the risk of waterborne diseases also increases.
Cholera is among the most dreaded among waterborne diseases. It is caused by a virus called Vibrio cholerae, which enters our body through drinking water. Severe vomiting and diarrhoea are the symptoms which lead to dehydration. If the symptoms are severe, the condition of the patient may become serious. So, in order to prevent dehydration, the patient has to be given liquids available at home like rice gruel with a pinch of salt or tender coconut water. Keeping ORS (oral rehydration solution) packets at home also helps. If the patients are children, exercise extra caution and take them to hospital as early as possible.
Acute diarrhoeal diseases cause excessive loss of water from the body. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), diarrhoeal diseases are the second biggest cause of death for infants below the age of five.
If a person has loose motion three or more times a day, it can considered as diarrhoea. The best way to combat it is by drinking plenty of water and beverages to replace the water lost from the body.
This disease spreads through water and food items contaminated by traces of a typhoid patient’s discharges. Caused by a bacterium called Salmonella typhi, typhoid easily spreads due to open defecation, unhealthy lifestyles and having food without washing hands. The symptoms are fever that does not subside even after weeks, bleeding through the nose, acute stomach pain and severe diarrhoea.
Various types of jaundice are also widely diagnosed during summer. Hepatitis A spreads through water. Defecation and urination in open places, contamination of drinking water with human excreta etc. lead to direct infection. Symptoms will be evident only two to six weeks after pathogens causing Hepatitis A or E enter the body. Major symptoms are fatigue, fever, vomiting, lack of appetite and a yellow tinge to the whites of the eyes as well as the skin.
Things to remember
» If proper care is not taken, waterborne diseases can be deadly.
» Avoid drinking impure water and unclean food.
» Always wash your hands before eating.
» Drink plenty of pure water to recover from an illness.
» Ideally, boiled water that has been cooled to room temperature is the best to drink.
All waterborne diseases can be treated. So, as soon as any symptom is seen, it's better to seek proper medical care.