DON'T SKIP THE HAND WASH: Hygiene practises can fall by the wayside as people try to conserve water.
DON'T SKIP THE HAND WASH: Hygiene practises can fall by the wayside as people try to conserve water. MIRANDA CASHIN

Risk of drought-related illness as conservation continues

WATER conservation should not come at the cost of hygiene, according to Mayor Tracy Dobie.

During a press conference yesterday the mayor said recently introduced restrictions of 100 litres of water per person, per day, allows "enough scope for people to shower every day".

"And for people who live in the rural sector on a house water tank, they have to use the water as best as they can."

Complimentary showers were opened to the public at the Stanthorpe Fitness Centre last month amid concerns residents were being forced to choose between showering and having drinking water available.

"Showering is one of the larger water usages for residents," Cr Dobie said.

"For those who have access to limited water supply, this water usage can cause great distress."

According to a report by the Federal Department of Health, a readily accessible supply of warm running water and soap is crucial in reducing the transmission of infections, particularly when visible dirt is present.

The effects of drought and water conservation on water-related diseases have been investigated in a recent review by researchers at the Health Protection Agency in London.

Research found that when people tried to save water by cutting out hygienic practises, such as hand washing and showering, person to person bacteria such as E.coli and salmonella spread and contributed to drought-associated diarrhoeal disease.

Health consequences can include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, diarrhoea and respiratory problems.

Certain drought-stricken regions overseas reported a 50 per cent increase in patients presenting at local hospitals for gastrointestinal health problems related to drought hygiene.

Cr Dobie advised rural residents struggling with their water supply to phone the council drought coordinator for assistance on 1300 697 372.