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Use of Ceramic Water Filtration in the Prevention of Diarrheal Disease: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Rural South Africa and Zimbabwe

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  • 1 Natural Resources and the Environment, CSIR, Pretoria, South Africa; Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland; Department of Geography, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom; Research and Technical Services, Institute of Water and Sanitation Development, Harare, Zimbabwe; Natasha Potgieter, Department of Microbiology, University of Venda for Science and Technology, Thohoyandou, Venda, South Africa; Water and Environmental Management Research Centre, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom

To determine the effectiveness of ceramic filters in reducing diarrhea, we conducted a randomized controlled trial in Zimbabwe and South Africa, in which 61 of 115 households received ceramic filters. Incidence of non-bloody and bloody diarrhea was recorded daily over 6 months using pictorial diaries for children 24–36 months of age. Poisson regression was used to compare incidence rates in intervention and control households. Adjusted for source quality, intervention household drinking water showed reduced Escherichia coli counts (relative risk, 0.67; 95% CI, 0.50–0.89). Zero E. coli were obtained for drinking water in 56.9% of intervention households. The incidence rate ratio for bloody diarrhea was 0.20 (95% CI, 0.09–0.43; P < 0.001) and for non-bloody diarrhea was 0.17 (95% CI, 0.08–0.38; P < 0.001), indicating much lower diarrhea incidence among filter users. The results suggest that ceramic filters are effective in reducing diarrheal disease incidence.

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