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The Role Of Water Quality In Public Health

781 words - 4 pages

As discussed in course lectures this semester, water quality plays a vital role in overall public health as well as environmental health. Protecting against waterborne disease is crucial for sustaining populations and ecosystems. Waterborne diseases are caused by pathogenic microorganisms that most commonly are transmitted in contaminated fresh water. According to the CDC, 780 million people do not have access to safe water, and an estimated 2.5 billion people (50% of the developed world) lack access to adequate sanitation. Diarrheal diseases such as cholera kill more children than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined, making it the second leading cause of death among children under 5. Approximately 88% of deaths due to diarrheal illness are attributable to unsafe water, poor sanitation, and inadequate hygiene. In the United States, an estimated 4 – 33 million annual diarrheal illness episodes still occur from exposure to contaminated municipal drinking water. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013)
In Georgia, there are several vectors capable of spreading waterborne disease and illness. Mosquitoes are most commonly associated with spreading waterborne diseases, and Georgia is home to 63 species. According to UGA Extension mosquito specialist Elmer Gray, peak period for West Nile transmission in Georgia has historically been August 15 through September 15. The Georgia Department of Public Health reported two human cases of West Nile Virus in Georgia through August 22, 2013. While most of the state received above-average rainfall during the summer of 2013, which led to large mosquito populations, a relatively small population of the Southern house mosquito (the mosquito that transmits the virus to humans) was present which drastically reduced the number of cases of West Nile Virus. Southern house mosquitoes develop in stagnant storm drains and thrive during drier summers, when their breeding grounds aren’t routinely flushed by rainwater. Compared to the summer of 2011 in Georgia, which was relatively dry, where there was a record 117 cases of West Nile and 6 deaths. (Melancon, 2013)
Eastern equine encephalitis, the most severe mosquito-borne disease of humans in the U.S., is caused by a virus transmitted by mosquitoes that typically develop in the swamps and woodlands below the fall line in Georgia. Health districts reported an increased number of animal cases in 2013, which indicates that the virus is actively being transmitted, however cases in...

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