According to the CIA World Factbook, the four most common diseases in Egypt are bacterial diarrhea, typhoid fever, hepatitis A and schistosomiasis. People in the country are at intermediate risk for contracting these illnesses.
Bacterial diarrhea, also referred to as bacterial gastroenteritis, is a stomach and intestine infection. It is spread through eating or drinking contaminated food and water. Depending on which bacteria are ingested, different symptoms may surface. The symptoms most associated with bacterial diarrhea are abdominal pain/cramps, loss of appetite, bloody stool, nausea and vomiting.
Fortunately, it only takes a couple of days for someone to recover from this infection fully. In the meantime, they should ward off dehydration by drinking enough fluids and getting enough rest, especially young children. If nausea and vomiting are preventing someone from getting their fluids, getting fluids via IV is also an option.
Enteric fever, more commonly known as typhoid fever, is a life-threatening bacterial disease. People carry the Salmonella Typhi in their bloodstream and intestinal tract. When carriers or infected individuals shed the bacteria in their stool, they can infect others by handling food or drinks. People can also be infected if they wash food with or drink contaminated water.
Symptoms of typhoid fever include feelings of weakness, headaches, stomach pains, loss of appetite and, in some cases, rashes. Because these symptoms are not unique to typhoid fever, getting stool or blood samples tested is the best way to know if someone is infected.
There are vaccines and antibiotics available to prevent and treat typhoid fever.
Another one of the most common diseases in Egypt is hepatitis A. The hepatitis A virus causes viral liver disease. It is transmitted by ingesting contaminated food and water or direct contact with an infected individual.
While hepatitis A by itself is rarely fatal and does not cause chronic liver disease, it can cause incapacitating symptoms and fatal acute liver failure if left untreated. Symptoms of hepatitis A include jaundice, malaise, fever, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal discomfort and dark-colored urine. These symptoms can manifest anywhere from mild to severe.
At the time of writing, there is no cure for hepatitis A, only preventative methods. These include drinking clean water, proper disposal of sewage materials and practicing good hygiene with clean water.
Schistosomiasis, also referred to as bilharzia, is a chronic and acute disease brought on by parasitic worms. Anyone who comes into contact with infected water is at risk of contracting it.
In reaction to the invading worms’ eggs, an infected person can experience diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloody stool. In extreme cases, there may also be liver and/or spleen enlargement. Children are at risk of having their growth stunted, developing learning complications and anemia. Fortunately, treatment can typically undo these effects.
As of now, ingesting clean water, avoiding exposure to contaminated water, similar preventative measures and taking the prescribed medications are the ways to deal with schistosomiasis.
While the most common diseases in Egypt may not all have cures, they are certainly not a death sentence. With proper preventative care and medication, people can wrest control of their bodies from these illnesses.
– Jada Haynes