A septic tank is an integral component of a sewage treating septic system. It can be thought of as a small-scale waste treatment plant, common to areas where access to sewage pipes is not provided. It is estimated that approximately 25 per cent of the North American population relies on septic tanks to dispose of waste. Anaerobic bacteria decompose most septic waste matter. Non-decomposed waste is removed physically or chemically treated. Septic tanks often harbour disease causing parasitic worms and leaks are known to contaminate drinking water.
Cryptosporidium parvum is a parasitic worm that causes cryptosporidiosis (or crypto), a disease of the intestinal track. Cryptosporidiosis is caused by ingesting cryptosporidium oocysts, which are borne and thrive in water contaminated with fecal waste. Wastewater from the tank seeps into river catchments used for drinking, contaminating it with the parasite. The parasite multiplies in the intestinal chamber of mammals, causing dehydration, weight loss, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and fever. Cryptosporidium parvum is often found in septic tanks. According to a serological research conducted by the FDA, approximately 80 per cent of the North American population has had cryptosporidiosis one point or the other in their lives. The main culprit is believed to have been contaminated septic tank water.
Tapeworms, or cestoda, are parasitic worms that live in the intestinal track and other body parts of mammals. Tapeworms are broadly classified into two types, namely intestinal tapeworms and tissue tapeworms. Intestinal tapeworms complete their life cycle in the intestine, absorbing nutrients from the digestive track of their host. Types of intestinal tapeworms include beef tapeworm (Taenia saginata), rat/dwarf tapeworm (Hymenolepis diminuta and Hymenolepis nana), dog tapeworm (Dipylidium caninum) and fish tapeworm (Diphyllobothrium latum). Tissue tapeworms contaminate the human body with eggs, or cysts, and include pork tapeworm (Taenia solium) and Hydatid Tapeworm (Echinococcus granulosus). A tapeworm infection causes diarrhoea, abdominal pain, fatigue and nausea and is treated by prescribed anthelmintic drugs.
Roundworms, or nematodes, are parasitic worms that live in the human intestinal track. The symptoms of a roundworm infection include diarrhoea, nausea, abdominal pain, weight loss, fatigue, shortness of breath and cough. There are various types of roundworms, including pinworm, hookworm (necator and ancylostoma), whipworm, ascaris lumbricoides, strongyloidiasis stercoralis, trichinosis spiralis, strongyloidiasis, and trichinosis. Diseases caused by roundworms include trichinosis, strongyloidiasis, trichuriasis, ancylostomiasis and ascariasis.