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revised April 04, 2011
State of the Region's Health Report: Focus on Suicide

Arrow BulletChapter 3 - Diseases Spread by Food and Water

Diseases spread by food and water are caused by bacteria, parasites and viruses that have found their way into our food or water from the feces of an infected person or animal. Many of these diseases can also be spread from one person to another if hands are not thoroughly washed with soap and water after using the washroom (this is the main method of transmission for hepatitis A). All these diseases may cause diarrhea that can be quite severe. In some illnesses (campylobacteriosis, hepatitis A, some types of salmonellosis, shigellosis and verotoxin-producing Escherichia coli (VTEC)) people will recover without antibiotics. Unfortunately, some of these infections may cause long-term complications such as kidney failure (VTEC), systemic infections (amebiasis, salmonellosis and yersiniosis) and immune system problems (campylobacteriosis, salmonellosis and yersiniosis).

The highest incidence for many of these diseases (campylobacteriosis, giardiasis, salmonellosis, shigellosis, Verotoxin-producing Escherichia coli and yersiniosis) occurs in those under five years of age. This may be due to:

  • poor personal hygiene,
  • increased likelihood of severe illness due to susceptibility of dehydration in infants and young children,
  • increased likelihood of severe illness due to less developed immune system, and
  • increased likelihood of being seen by a physician and diagnosed if sick.

Chapter 3 - Diseases Spread by Food and Water (PDF 74KB, 10 pages)


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