10 September 2007

Drinking water security, sewage and emerging bugs III

Growing population centres and the inefficient use of water is “the greatest threat to waterways”. Mega cities, such as L.A., are “growing too fast for its water resources”.

With the advent of agriculture, and its associated urbanisation people exchanged their produce as well as “parasites and infectious diseases.” (J.Diamond) Dense aggregation of people, changed water and land scapes aiding disease transmission. Road construction projects are the 'highways for diarrhea' as such.” When fecal-oral pathogens meet human poverty and dislocation, diarrheal diseases are a predictable outcome.”

Today sewage infrastructure in Australia has not kept pace with the rapid sprawl on the dryest continent. Demand for drinking water outstrips supply. “If we keep taking more water, we're going to be looking at increased salinity, toxic algal blooms, fish killssome warn. Add to the algal blooms suburban sewage and one has fuelled the growth of microbial harmful agents. The security of drinking water and the health of the (coastal) population could be compromised.

Urban health, a main achievement of civilisation, was only made possible through modern sewage and water treatment systems. Back in the mid 19th century an amateur scientist found the connection between contaminated drinking water and sewage bacteria in Europe. The cholera (Vibrio cholerea ) epidemic was transmitted to humans by water. “...An outbreak of the disease is evidence that people have been drinking each other’s feces. Much of modern civilization has been geared toward making sure that this doesn’t happen.” The 1854 epidemic of London was “killing more than ten percent of the population there in a matter of eight days”. Many of the people who lost their lives were well known.The source of the contaminated drinking water was traced to a street pump. The disease thriller The Ghost Map tells us of the mash up. In many ways, the story...is all about the triumph of a certain kind of urbanism in the face of great adversity, the power of dense cities to create solutions to problems that they themselves have brought about (video)

In some developing countries today, such as in China “...more than half the country's population of 1.3 billion people, including 278 cities, live without any form of sewage treatment.Access to uncontaminated drinking water, in developing and OECD countries might not be guaranteed in the 21 century. Ailing or non-existent sewage infrastructure might compromise the health of the global mega city. Here are some random recent examples:

In the small, historic bay settlement of Apulia (Italy) they just had a resurgence of waterborne disease.“ The outbreak of viral gastroenteritis (norovirus)... is probably the largest one associated with drinking tap water in Italy.

At the moment " We are seeing a wave of multiple outbreaks that is already spreading across Australia....Noroviruses have accounted for a five-fold increase in infectious gastroenteritis cases in recent years.” The virulent strain norovirus 2006b occurs especially in places where people aggregate densely. (Nursing homes, hospitals and child-care centres and cruise liners.) ” Transmission of caliciviruses is generally by the fecal-oral route, but they can also be transmitted via the respiratory route.”

Acute gastroenteritis (AGE) is now a global phenomena. Other water bugs, such as cholera, typhoid etc can spread under unsanitary conditions to infect water. The diarrhea enters the drinking water via the ground water supply. V. cholerae, lives in water bodies on plankton...”Coastal cholera outbreaks typically follow zooplankton blooms.Eutrophication fuels the thick carpets floating on the world oceans, a rich nutrient culture for (re-)emergent microbial diseases.

Matching infrastructure with population growth, systemic security of drinking water, hygiene, OHS in an informed society could 'buy' another century of health. Treating the world's water bodies sustainably as a treasure would add to the water-security and food-security by simultaneously guaranteeing biodiversity. In cases of epidemics or pandemics, systemic and individual preparedness guarantees survival. In Australia “the water supply and sewage are a user-pays system that operate under a corporation”. Expert 'marketised scientific opinion' guide systemic decision-making.

Meanwhile huge chunks of water bodies are being distributed to 'water' coal mines and cotton fields. The 'privatisation bonanza' goes into full speed to 'finance big infrastructure plans'. The horse industry gets '110-million dollars compensation ' for the virus they had to endure.

On the Use of Water - Or the Creation of Dead Zones
Drinking Water & Healthy Water Bodies Pt II
Antarctic Seals on Sydney Beaches - “ The anatomy of a sea lion is not too dissimilar to the human anatomy”

Norovirus updates, EU
Norovirus, CDC
Cholera, Textbook

Sick City, Maps and mortality in the time of cholera, Steven Shapin, The New Yorker
Dr. Eisenberg studies infectious disease epidemiology with a focus on waterborne and vectorborne diseases.
Proper hand washing procedure
Neglected diseases
Safe Drinking Water is Essential, National Academy of Sciences
The 1832 cholera epidemic in East London
web 2.0, diy health sousveillance:
Health Map, outbreaks and epidemics by country and disease
Flue wiki
Disease alert, Googlemap
Who is Sick?, map web 2.0
Mobile preparedness

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