Waterborne Diseases

Seven most prevalent waterborne illnesses and How to Prevent Them

Water, a fluid that supports life, may also be fatal and take lives. 3.1% of fatalities worldwide are attributed to unclean and subpar water. According to the World Health Organization, 80% of infections are water-borne globally.

Alarmingly, one-third of India’s 600 districts are considered unsafe for drinking because their groundwater contains harmful amounts of fluoride, iron, salt, and arsenic. Fluorosis, a debilitating disease brought on by too much fluoride and a frequent ailment in northern India’s Rajasthan state region, affects about 65 million people worldwide.

In a World Resources Report, the World Resources Institute, based in Washington, DC, estimated that over 70% of India’s water supply was significantly polluted.

In addition, India’s water quality was assessed by the United Nations at an appalling 120th place out of 122 countries for the quality of water that is fit for human consumption, with 122nd place being the worst.


1. Typhoid Fever

Typhoid fever, though uncommon in affluent nations, is well-known in very underdeveloped regions of developing countries; it is believed that up to 20 million individuals globally contract the illness each year.

It is extremely contagious and spreads through tainted food, unclean water, and subpar hygiene.


These signs include:

  • An increasing fever gradually
  • Muscle pain
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Constipation or diarrhoea


Treatment and Prevention

For those travelling to places where contaminated water and inadequate sanitation are frequent, vaccinations are advised. The vaccination can be administered orally over a period of days or as an injection. Avoid consuming food from villagers or street sellers, and refrain from consuming any unbottled, sealed water. Antibiotics are used to treat typhoid.


2. Cholera

Cholera is frequently seen in remote areas or humanitarian crises when deprivation and poor sanitation are pervasive. The illness, which causes severe diarrhoea and dehydration, is spread via tainted water. Only one in ten people may experience life-threatening symptoms with cholera, but it can be lethal within days or even hours of introduction to the germs.


These signs include:

  •     Nausea
  •     Vomiting
  •     Diarrhea
  •     Muscle cramps


Treatment and Prevention

When travelling, cholera is a watery disease that is readily avoidable. Wash your hands frequently, avoid eating raw fish (no sushi), and only consume fruits and vegetables that you can peel yourself, such as avocados, bananas, and oranges. Naturally, ingest wholesome water.


3. Giardia

The most common places for this waterborne disease to be discovered are ponds and streams, but it can also be found in swimming pools, a town’s water supply, and other places. A parasite is to blame for the infection, which usually goes away after a few weeks. Those who have been exposed, however, run the risk of continuing to suffer digestive issues for years to come.


These signs include:

  •     Abdominal pain
  •     Cramps and bloating
  •     Diarrhea
  •     Nausea
  •     Weight loss


Treatment and Prevention

Giardia does not have a vaccine, but there are easy measures to prevent the illness. Avoid ingesting water when swimming, wash your hands frequently, and only consume bottled water. Giardia is normally defeated over time by the immune system on its own. However, if symptoms get worse, doctors will recommend antibiotics and anti-parasite drugs.

Communities without access to clean water cannot defend themselves against diseases like giardia, and treating this ailment can be expensive for a family living in poverty. Lifewater’s programmes emphasise long-term prevention due to these factors. This entails building safe water sources and disseminating health information house by home until the entire community is equipped with the tools and information necessary to prevent waterborne sickness.



4. Dysentery

Dysentery is a waterborne illness caused by an intestinal infection that is marked by extreme diarrhoea and blood or mucus in the stool. Because poor hygiene is a major factor in the transmission of the disease, dysentery is a solid reason to regularly wash your hands. It may be brought on by contaminated food, drink, or faeces as well as by bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Dysentery patients’ lives may be at danger if they cannot quickly replace lost fluids.


These signs include:

  •     Stomach cramps and pain
  •     Diarrhea
  •     Fever
  •     Nausea
  •     Vomiting
  •     Dehydration


Treatment and Prevention

Wash your hands with soap frequently, ask for no ice in your drinks, avoid eating food from street vendors, and only consume fruits that you can peel in order to prevent dysentery. When visiting regions with a higher risk of dysentery, such as countries where basic hygiene standards are uncommon, only drink sealed, bottled water.

Rest and drinks are usually sufficient to treat mild dysentery, but over-the-counter drugs like Pepto-Bismol can ease stomach cramping. Although certain disease strains are resistant, antibiotics can be used to treat more severe instances.


5. Eccherichia coli (E. coli)

There are many different strains of the bacterium E. coli, some of which are harmful and others helpful. For instance, E. coli bacteria are crucial to the development of a healthy digestive tract.

However, those who consume these items could develop symptoms of the waterborne sickness if animal manure has gotten into farms where produce is cultivated or if strains of E. coli are distributed during the preparation of ground beef. Additionally, the bacterium can be found in unclean water supplies worldwide where cows and human water sources interact.

Smptoms of harmful E. coli strains Similarities between coli and dysentery and other aquatic illnesses exist. the majority of E. coli pass within a week, but older persons and young children are more likely to experience symptoms that could be fatal. If diarrhoea contains blood, anyone suspected of having consumed tainted food or water should seek medical attention.

Treatment and Prevention

Always avoid water that can be polluted with faeces from animals or people (like ponds, rivers, and swamps). Cook the ground beef completely if you plan to consume it. Wash your hands frequently, thoroughly wash your produce, and only consume clean water.

Drink plenty of clean water, get plenty of rest, and use over-the-counter diarrhoea medications to treat the illness.

Even though these are straightforward methods of prevention and treatment, many isolated tribes in Uganda are forced to drink from marshes.



6. Hepatitis A


Hepatitis A is a liver infection brought on by ingesting contaminated food or water or by being in close proximity to an infected person. The disease is most commonly contracted by people who frequently travel to underdeveloped nations or work in rural areas with subpar sanitation and hygiene practises.


These signs include:

  •     Fatigue
  •     Clay-colored bowel movements
  •     Jaundice
  •     Nausea and vomiting
  •     Abdominal pain, especially near your liver
  •     Loss of appetite
  •     Sudden fever



Although the illness typically resolves in a few weeks, it is possible for it to worsen and last for several months.

Treatment and Prevention

Getting the vaccine is the most effective method of preventing hepatitis A. Eat nothing at room temperature and only items that have been fully cooked and served hot. Eat only fruit that you can peel yourself and that you have done so. Avoid eating from street vendors, runny eggs, and raw or rare meat. Visit this link to the CDC’s page on hepatitis A for a complete list of dos and don’ts.


After contracting hepatitis A, a person develops an immunity and is likely to never contract it again. The symptoms, however, are severe and frequently necessitate taking time off of work or school for recovery. If you have hepatitis A, stay hydrated, avoid drinking alcohol, and get plenty of rest.


After three months, a full recovery is anticipated as the sickness will have run its course.



7. Salmonella

Salmonella is typically contracted by consuming contaminated food or drink. Fruits, vegetables, undercooked meat, and egg products can all harbour the illness. The majority of people do not experience difficulties, but those who are most susceptible are youngsters, pregnant women, older persons, and those with compromised immune systems.


These signs include:

  •    Blood in stool
  •    Chills
  •    Headache
  •    Diarrhea


Treatment and Prevention

Make careful to fully cook your own food and store or freeze it within 30 minutes after use. Always wash your hands frequently, and refrain from touching birds or reptiles.

A salmonella infection makes the body dehydrated. Drink fluids and electrolytes to treat it. Hospitalization and antibiotics may be needed for more serious infections.


We have discovered the key to live longer life

Get yourself check with INIGIMA online diagnosis a healthy step for longer life always connected with medical experts and doctors  BOOK NOW


A review article by

Dr Bhavna Kalvala (Clinical Research Director @ IEEARC Tech)


Comments are closed