Can you get sick from exposure to raw sewage? Yes.
Whether you’re a professional who’s involved in sewage treatment or you’re just a regular guy who’s afraid about exposure to sewage, raw sewage is dangerous. Exposure to it creates a lot of health risks.
If you’ve noticed some abnormal symptoms you’re suspicious about, this article may provide critical help.
Causes Of Exposure To Raw Sewage
You might wonder how exposure to raw sewage is even possible. You don’t need direct contact with raw sewage to be exposed to it. There are indirect ways through which people come in contact with raw sewage.
These range from overflowing sewage tanks or reservoirs and broken pipes that leak out raw sewage to having or locating septic tank leach drains too close to drinking water sources.
Other possible ways to expose raw sewage include blocked & overflowing toilets and uncovered or broken septic tanks.
All these are possible ways people get exposed to raw sewage.
However, simply mentioning these won’t do justice to our discussion. Let’s further explain each of these ways of exposure to raw sewage.
Overflowing Sewage Tanks or Reservoirs
When sewage treatment tanks or reservoirs get filled up, their contents (raw sewage) spill over and find their way into water pools. Now, this is a hazardous situation as such raw wastewater contains a variety of disease-causing parasites and germs.
Broken sewage pipes bleed out raw sewage from the system. When left unfixed, this worsens and quickly finds its way into nearby water sources (possibly drinking water). People who use or drink such water get exposed to it.
Locating Septic Tank Leach Drains Close to Drinking Water Sources
When septic tank leach drains are located close to drinking water sources, it creates a health risk. Here, effluent soaks through the soil and finds its way into the water supply system. This is very dangerous.
Blocked and Overflowing Toilets
Another easy way people contact raw sewage is through blocked and overflowing toilets.
You want to ensure the immediate repairs of your blocked toilets to avoid such exposure. Part of a clogged toilet may be due to a filled-up septic tank.
Broken or Uncovered Septic Tanks
Septic tanks are broken or left uncovered, and effluent or raw sewage can escape easily. Now, people quickly come in contact with such raw sewage unknowingly, which exposes them to health risks.
Health Issues Associated With Exposure To Raw Sewage
Having discussed the different ways raw sewage exposure comes about, we should focus on the symptoms arising from such disclosure. Several vital signs point to possible exposure to raw sewage.
Leaky Sewage Health Hazards
The diseases caused by raw sewage exposure begin to show signs or symptoms. Raw sewage is known to contain harmful (disease-causing) bacteria, viruses, and parasites. These are responsible for a variety of diseases.
What health problems can raw sewage cause? Here are some conditions.
Symptoms of Bacterial Infection
When exposed to raw sewage, it’s possible to be infected with any of the three (bacteria, virus, or parasites). For bacterial infection, common illnesses may include E. coli or campylobacteriosis.
There are lots of diseases caused by bacterial infections.
For E. coli, common symptoms include fever, nausea, abdominal pain, and vomiting. Common symptoms of campylobacteriosis include vomiting, bloody stool, cramping, and fever.
Other bacterial diseases include melioidosis, salmonellosis, trachoma, and shigellosis.
Symptoms of Viral Infection due to Raw Sewage Exposure
Raw sewage exposure may lead to viral infections as well.
Viral infections may result in poliomyelitis, hepatitis A or gastroenteritis. For polio, common symptoms include abdominal pain, sore throat, constipation, fever, vomiting, and nausea.
The symptoms of viral diseases such as gastroenteritis include excessive or severe vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, and cramping. These symptoms should trigger immediate medical attention.
The sooner you get the proper medical attention, the better.
Symptoms of Parasitic Infection Due to Raw Sewage Exposure
Parasitic infections may also occur when exposed to raw sewage. These are mainly spread when untreated sewage finds its way into water (including drinking water) sources.
It results in diseases like Giardiasis or Cryptosporidiosis, dwarf tapeworm infection, threadworm infection, hookworm infection, etc.
The symptoms of these ailments are similar to those caused by viral and bacterial infections. To help determine the causes, seeking medical attention as soon as you can upon seeing the symptoms is essential.
When discussing the symptoms of raw sewage exposure, the discussion is never complete without highlighting the resulting diseases, which display specific signs.
These include hepatitis A, typhoid fever, dysentery, salmonellosis, and cryptosporidiosis.
Now, some of these have been earlier mentioned in passing. Let’s get the details of the symptoms associated with them.
It’s important to note that raw sewage refers to untreated fecal matter. Exposure to such ingestion makes you more than likely to end up contracting hepatitis A.
Common symptoms of this disease include diarrhea, fever, nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite, and jaundice.
This bacterial infection spreads through contaminated water and food. You’re likely to experience symptoms such as rash, high fever, loss of appetite, weakness, and stomach pains when infected.
Others include cough and headaches. It’s essential to seek medical attention as soon as you can.
Like hepatitis A, dysentery is caused by contaminated fecal matter ingestion. It shows symptoms that include stomach cramps, fever, and bloody diarrhea.
The bacteria salmonella causes salmonellosis. When a person gets infected, they’re likely to show symptoms that include abdominal cramps, fever, and diarrhea.
Cryptosporidiosis is a water-borne infection resulting from raw sewage exposure. An infected person may experience stomach cramps, slight fever, upset stomach, diarrhea, and loose or watery stools.
Solving the Problem
Having mentioned the symptoms associated with raw sewage exposure, the appropriate response needed includes seeking medical help or treatment. To solve this problem once and for all, you’ll need to look at the source of such issues; this points to leaking sewage.
Leakage in sewage systems will have to be fixed appropriately to ensure their untreated contents don’t find their way out into water sources. Blocked toilets must also be fixed as soon as possible.
Here, we’ve provided you with information on raw sewage exposure symptoms.
This clears up any confusion and lets you know the causes of specific symptoms. It’s always best to seek medical attention as soon as possible.