1. What are germs?
2. Getting germs
3. Germ environment
4. Germ travel
6. Water's role
7. Water suppliers
Diseases & pathogens
Note on E. coli
Symptoms: How are we exposed to germs?
can enter our bodies through four routes
swallowing into the digestive tract
breathing into the respiratory tract
through a wound
vector borne: from an insect bite
the skin; this is very rare for microorganisms
Since our interest here is drinking water, the route
of exposure we will consider is ingestion. Illnesses in the digestive
tract (sometimes called the alimentary canal) are called gastrointestinal
diseases. Common symptoms of gastrointestinal diseases are vomiting and
diarrhea. Prolonged and severe diarrhea is a major cause of death in many
parts of the world, and contaminated, untreated drinking water is a principal
cause of those afflictions.
Think about your symptoms: did you throw up, have a fever, go to the bathroom
frequently? How long did your illness last? Did you go to the doctor?
Did anyone suggest what made you sick? Chances are very high that there
were germs involved.
Germs are everywhere in the world: on us, in us, and around us. Some of
them can make us sick, by causing infections, so doctors and scientists
work hard to learn as much as they can about them. Water suppliers need
to understand germs, too, because it is their job to keep drinking water
Invasion by pathogenic microorganisms of a bodily part
in which conditions are favorable for growth, production of toxins,
and subsequent injury to tissue.
American Heritage Dictionary (AHD)