16 June 2010
By Pratibha Masand
While the absence of adequate minerals in drinking water at public places may not be cause for worry, the presence of coliforms–an indicator of the amount of faecal matter in water–in such large concentrations poses a health risk.
According to Dr A G Ballani, consultant physician with Lilavati Hospital in Bandra, coliforms are found in human and animal intestines, and are excreted. “Coliforms are of two types: commensal (normally occurring) and diseased (harmful). While potable water is supposed to contain a permissible amount of coliform, anything exceeding that poses a threat. Consumption of contaminated water can cause diseases like gastroenteritis, which includes diarrhoea and vomiting, and typhoid,”he said.
While the adverse health effect of the bacteria E.coli or Escherichia Coli is known to the public, the health hazards of other types of coliform cannot be ignored, say doctors. “There are various forms of coliform which when mixed with drinking water may affect the liver and intestine,”said Dr Sunita Kshirsagar, a Mumbai–based, general practitioner.
The findings of the study conducted by the students of the Indian Education Society Management College and Research Centre could not have come at a worse time. With the onset of monsoon, city doctors and civic hospitals have observed a rise in the number of patients falling prey to monsoon related diseases. According to the data collected by the health department of the BMC, city hospitals have recorded a total of 687 gastroenteritis cases in the first half of this month.
Apart from gastroenteritis, there is also a rise in hepatitis cases. “We are treating almost 10 patients every week for infections contracted through the faecal–oral route, which suggests that the person has consumed contaminated food or water,”said Dr Ballani.
“Even if the drinking water supplied by the BMC is safe, it doesn’t mean that it may not get contaminated while being transported. Filtering water is not enough. People should boil it first,”said Dr Vimal Pahuja from Hiranandani Hospital.
It is an infection or inflammation of one’s digestive tract Symptoms Vomiting, watery diarrhoea, fever Preventive measures: Avoid eating roadside food
Jaundice is not a disease but rather a sign that can occur in many different diseases. It is associated with an increase of bilirubin in the blood that can cause liver disease Symptoms: Yellowness of eyes and skin, vomiting Preventive measures: Drink boiled water; keep the liquid levels high in your diet
Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection characterised by diarrhoea, systemic disease, and a rash Symptoms: Fever, general illfeeling, abdominal painPreventive measures: Eat well–cooked food