A virus is a microorganism that needs a living cell’s chemical makeup in order to grow or reproduce, and a virus may reproduce itself exactly as it is or with errors or mutations. When a virus mutates it changes in each person it infects causing treatment to become more difficult.
Viruses are the source of many infections ranging from the common cold, a rhinovirus, to the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Viruses are smaller than bacteria.
Why are viruses in water a concern?
Water is a basic need in all humans and animals, so water that is impure must be treated to get rid of any bacteria or virus that may cause disease. There are several known types of viruses that live and thrive in water and are considered waterborne viruses:
• Adenovirus infection is one of the viruses in water transmitted through untreated water. Its symptoms are common cold symptoms, croup, bronchitis, and pneumonia.
• Gastroenteritis is found in untreated water. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, fever, and abdominal pain.
• SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) is another virus found in drinking water. Its symptoms are fever, myalgia, gastrointestinal symptoms, lethargy, cough and sore throat.
• Hepatitis A can be ingested through water and food. The symptoms of this disease are always acute and never chronic. Symptoms are fatigue, abdominal pain, fever, diarrhea, nausea, jaundice, itching, weight loss and depression.
• Poliomyelitis (polio), one of the viruses in water, enters water through the feces of an infected person. What makes polio unusual is that 90% to 95% of people with the disease show no symptoms. Symptoms such as headache, delirium, fever, occasional seizures and spastic paralysis occur in 4% to 8% of victims. Non-paralytic asceptic meningitis presents in 1% of patients and the rest are totally paralyzed or die from the disease.
• Polyomavirus (BK and JV viruses) are very widespread and can be transmitted through water. It is believed that approximately 80% of the population carries antibodies to Polyomavirus. Symptoms of the BK virus are mild respiratory infection and infection of the kidneys in some transplant patients. The JV virus causes infection in the respiratory system and kidneys and may cause progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy in the brain the results in death.
Viruses in water have a huge health and economic impact on the individual, the community and a whole country if not detected and eliminated in the early stages of development. Viral diseases are not easily treated and can cost enormous amounts of time and money to fix.