Quality of drinking water and diarrheal diseases in Cuba, 1996-1997

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Journal: Rev Panam Salud Publica 2000/07/14
Published: 2000
Authors: Aguiar Prieto, P.;Cepero Martin, J. A.;Coutin Marie, G.
Address: Unidad Nacional de Salud Ambiental, Ministerio de Salud Publica, La Habana, Cuba. Aguiarpa@hesp.sld.cu

A study was conducted in 1996 and 1997 in 31 Cuban cities having a population greater than 35,000, in order to determine if there was a relationship between drinking water quality and the frequency of acute diarrheal diseases (ADD). We used the level of disinfection (based on chlorine concentration) as well as the level of bacterial contamination (based on the presence of coliform bacteria) as water quality indicators, and the frequency of ADD was calculated on the basis of the number of visits (per 100,000 inhabitants) to individual family physicians and to physicians on call in hospitals and polyclinics that were prompted by ADD. Weekly determinations of chlorine concentrations and monthly measurements of bacterial contamination were performed by taking daily water samples at 2,045 key sites along the water distribution channels in the cities included in the study. In 1996 and 1997, the percentages of samples with good chlorination (residual chlorine > or = 0.3 mg/L) for the entire country were 72.4% and 74.8%, respectively, whereas the percentages of samples with little bacterial contamination (most probable number MPN of fecal coliform bacteria < or = 9.2/100 mL) were 87.0% and 76.5%, respectively. Logistic regression revealed, at the local level, an inverse correlation between each of these percentages and the number of medical consultations for ADD (per 100,000 inhabitants), although it was not statistically significant. These results allowed the authors to stratify the cities included in the study according to their different levels of risk for ADD: high risk (23 cities), moderate risk (8 cities), and low risk (0 cities).

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