7 Most Common Waterborne Diseases (and How to Prevent Them) (2022)

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Each year, waterborne diseases afflict hundreds of millions of people, primarily those living without safe, accessible water in developing countries.

Of the seven most common waterborne diseases in the world, diarrhea is the central symptom. The latest research shows that diarrhea is the second leading cause of death for children under the age of five, causing more childhood deaths than malaria, AIDS, and measles combined.

That’s hundreds of thousands of deaths, but there is hope for the future. Experts believe we can end the global water and sanitation crisis in our lifetime.

What are Waterborne Diseases?

Waterborne diseases are illnesses caused by microscopic organisms, like viruses and bacteria, that are ingested through contaminated water or by coming in contact with feces.

If every person on the planet was able to practice safe sanitation and hygiene and have access to clean water, these diseases would not exist. Governments, NGOs, and communities themselves have made great strides in the past 20 years to end waterborne diseases. Still, there is much to be done.

Learn about seven waterborne diseases and help prevent them today.

  1. Typhoid Fever

Although rare in industrialized countries, typhoid fever is well-known in extremely poor parts of developing nations; it’s estimated that up to 20 million people worldwide suffer from the illness each year. It’s spread through contaminated food, unsafe water, and poor sanitation, and it is highly contagious.

7 Most Common Waterborne Diseases (and How to Prevent Them) (1)

Symptoms include:

  • A fever that increases gradually
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea or constipation

Prevention and Treatment

(Video) Common water borne diseases

Vaccines are recommended for people who are traveling in areas where poor sanitation and unsafe water are common. The vaccine can be injected via a shot or taken orally for a number of days. To prevent it, refrain from drinking any water that isn’t bottled and sealed, and do not eat food from villages or street vendors. Typhoid is treated with antibiotics.

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  1. Cholera

Cholera is commonly found in humanitarian emergencies or marginalized villages where poverty and poor sanitation are rampant. The disease is spread through contaminated water and causes severe dehydration and diarrhea. Cholera can be fatal within days or even hours of exposure to the bacteria, but only 1 in 10 people will develop life-threatening symptoms.

Symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle cramps

Prevention and Treatment

Cholera is a waterborne illness that’s easily prevented when traveling. Wash your hands often, only eat foods that are completely cooked and hot (no sushi), and only eat vegetables you can peel yourself, like avocados, bananas, and oranges. Of course, drink safe water.

7 Most Common Waterborne Diseases (and How to Prevent Them) (2)

When handwashing in unavailable, cholera can impact an entire village. In developing countries like Ethiopia, data shows that 40 percent of households do not have means to wash their hands properly, meaning they don’t have safe water, soap, and a facility to wash. This makes hygiene management and disease prevention nearly impossible for these communities.

Lifewater helps prevent cholera in remote villages by teaching families how to construct their own handwashing devices. To date, 5,970 homes in Ethiopia alone have built their own handwashing station (called a “tippy tap“) using locally-sourced materials.

  1. Giardia

This waterborne disease is shared through contaminated water, most often in ponds and streams, but it can also be found in a town’s water supply, swimming pools, and more. The infection is caused by a parasite and typically clears up after a few weeks. However, it’s possible for those who have been exposed will experience intestinal problems for years to come.

Symptoms include:

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

Prevention and Treatment

(Video) CONTAMINATION OF WATER AND WATER BORNE DISEASES

While there is no vaccine for giardia, there are simple ways to avoid the infection. Wash your hands with soap often, don’t swallow water while swimming, and drink only bottled water.

With time, the immune system will typically beat giardia on its own. But, if symptoms worsen, doctors prescribe anti-parasite and antibiotic medications.

Water-poor communities cannot protect themselves from illnesses like giardia, and treatment for this illness can come at a high cost for a family living in poverty. For these reasons, Lifewater’s programs focus on long-term prevention. This includes constructing safe water sources and teaching health practices, one house at a time, until the entire community has the resources and the knowledge to prevent waterborne illness.

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7 Most Common Waterborne Diseases (and How to Prevent Them) (3)

When families learn how to construct their own handwashing facilities, bathrooms, and dish drying racks, they take control of their health. They check off a list of basic health practices, and they become certified Lifewater “Healthy Homes.”

  1. Dysentery

An intestinal infection, dysentery is a waterborne disease characterized by severe diarrhea as well as blood or mucus in the stool. Dysentery is good reason to always wash your hands, as the disease is spread mainly through poor hygiene. It can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites in unsafe food and water and by people coming in contact with fecal matter. If someone experiencing dysentery cannot replace fluids quickly enough, their life could be at risk.

Symptoms include:

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

Prevention and Treatment

To prevent dysentery, wash your hands with soap frequently, order all drinks without ice, don’t eat food sold by street vendors, and only eat fruits you can peel. Drink only sealed, bottled water while traveling in places with higher dysentery risk, such as communities where proper hygiene practices are uncommon.

Mild dysentery usually clears up with rest and fluids, but over-the-counter medications such as Pepto-Bismol can help with stomach cramping. More severe cases can be treated with antibiotics, although some strains of the disease are resistant.

READ THE 2019 GLOBAL WATER AND SANITATION UPDATE >
  1. Escherichia Coli (E. coli)

E. coli is a bacteria with various strains, some dangerous and some beneficial. For example, E. coli bacteria is important in creating a healthy intestinal tract.

(Video) Apollo Hospitals | How are water borne diseases transmitted and what can be done to prevent them?

However, if animal waste has found its way into farmland where produce is grown or if strains of E. coli are spread through the process of making ground beef, those who consume these foods could experience symptoms of the waterborne illness. The bacteria is also found in unsafe water sources around the globe where human water sources and cattle coexist.

Symptoms of dangerous strains of E. coli are similar to that of dysentery and other waterborne diseases. Most bouts of E. coli pass within a week, but older people and young children have a greater chance of developing life-threatening symptoms. Anyone believed to have been exposed to contaminated food or water should contact a doctor if diarrhea contains blood.

Prevention and Treatment

As always, avoid water possibly contaminated by human and/or animal feces (like ponds, rivers, and swamps). If you are going to eat ground beef, cook thoroughly. Wash fruits and vegetables well, wash hands often, and drink only safe water.

To treat the disease, drink plenty of safe water, rest, and take over-the-counter diarrheal medication.

While these are simple prevention and treatment tips, there are many remote communities in Uganda who have no choice but to drink from swamps.

7 Most Common Waterborne Diseases (and How to Prevent Them) (4)

Lifewater staff are serving the village of Kikomera Biri, Uganda, where families gather water from a swamp. The results of water testing showed an extremely high risk for dangerous pathogens like typhoid, harmful strains of E. coli, and other waterborne diseases. Unless this community—which is already experiencing extreme poverty—pays for a taxi to drive into town for expensive, bottled water, they have no choice but to keep drinking from the swamp.

Thankfully, a new safe water source for all 299 residents is planned for construction this year.

  1. Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by consuming contaminated food and water or by coming in close contact with someone who has the infection. People who travel in developing countries often or work in rural communities with poor sanitation and hygiene management are most exposed to the disease.

Symptoms include:

(Video) Water Borne Diseases ll Causes, Symptoms & Prevention ll Social Pharmacy Chapter 2 ll With Notes

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

The infection usually goes away in a few weeks, but it’s possible that it can become severe and last several months.

Prevention and Treatment

The best way to prevent hepatitis A is by getting the vaccine. Eat only foods that are thoroughly cooked and served hot, and avoid eating anything at room temperature. Only eat fruit that you can peel and that you have peeled yourself. Don’t eat from food vendors and don’t eat runny eggs or raw/rare meat. For a full list of dos and don’ts, visit the CDC’s page on Hepatitis A here.

Once a person has hepatitis A, they build an immunity and will likely never get it again. However, the symptoms are serious, often forcing people to take time off work or school to recover. If you have contracted hepatitis A, rest, avoid drinking alcohol, and drink plenty of fluids. The disease will run its course, and full recovery is expected after three months.

END WATERBORNE DISEASES WITH LIFEWATER TODAY >
  1. Salmonella

Most cases of salmonella come from ingesting food or water contaminated with feces. Undercooked meat, egg products, fruits, and vegetables can also carry the disease. Most people don’t develop complications, but children, pregnant women, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems are most at risk.

Symptoms include:

  • Blood in stool
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea

Prevention and Treatment

When preparing your own food, make sure to cook thoroughly and store or freeze within 30 minutes of use. Avoid touching birds or reptiles, and as always, wash your hands frequently.

Salmonella infection dehydrates the body. Treat it by drinking fluids and electrolytes. More serious infections can require hospitalization and antibiotics.

Prevent Waterborne Diseases for Good: Give with Lifewater

There are many parts in the world where waterborne diseases are rampant, deadly, and knowledge about prevention is not widely available. For over 40 years, Lifewater has sought out these places, working with communities to teach vital sanitation and health practices and constructing custom water technologies in places where water access is most difficult.

(Video) Preventing Waterborne Diseases

Over and over again, cholera is prevented and typhoid eradicated. Children no longer battle waterborne illness, and parents go back to work.

7 Most Common Waterborne Diseases (and How to Prevent Them) (5)

When you become a monthly giving partner with Lifewater, you give safe water to one person for life every month. Or, give one time. Every gift changes lives. You’ll receive real-time updates on progress and photos to share with friends and family. You can eliminate waterborne diseases for good. Give today.

END WATERBORNE DISEASES WITH LIFEWATER TODAY >

FAQs

What are water borne diseases and their prevention? ›

Poor water quality becomes inevitable when water gets polluted with industrial waste, human waste, animal waste, garbage, untreated sewage, chemical effluents, etc. Drinking or cooking with such polluted water leads to waterborne diseases and infections such as amoebiasis, giardiasis, and toxoplasmosis.

What are five water borne diseases? ›

How can we prevent air borne diseases and water-borne diseases give two examples each? ›

Some of the best and simplest preventative measures are: Cough or sneeze into a handkerchief or into your elbow. Wash your hands frequently. Regularly clean common surfaces, like doorknobs, counters, handles, and more.

What are 10 diseases caused by polluted water? ›

Water and health

Contaminated water and poor sanitation are linked to transmission of diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio.

How can we prevent water-borne diseases Class 9? ›

Use of bottled water, regular cleaning of water containers, maintain personal hygine, eating cooked and warm food, wash vegetables and fruits before cooking, maintain cleanliness in surroundings, proper dispose off of infant and toddler feces, avoid foods and fruit juices from roadside vendors, keep food and drinking ...

What are the four major types of water related diseases? ›

Common waterborne illnesses include typhoid, cholera, dysentery, gastroenteritis, and hepatitis.

Is malaria water borne? ›

Malaria may, to some extent, be a water-borne disease, but that the malaria plasmodium or poison gains admittance into the system wholly by way of the stomach, we think we have ample evidence to lead us to doubt.

What are waterborne diseases caused by? ›

Waterborne illness is primarily caused by swallowing contaminated recreational or drinking water. Many waterborne pathogens can also be acquired by consuming contaminated food or beverages, from contact with animals or their environment, through person-to-person spread or breathing in contaminated water droplets.

How is cholera prevented? ›

Five Basic Cholera Prevention Steps
  1. Be sure you drink and use safe water. Use bottled water to brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, and make ice or beverages. ...
  2. Wash your hands often with soap and safe water. Before, during, and after preparing food. ...
  3. Use toilets. ...
  4. Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it. ...
  5. Clean up safely.
12 Oct 2022

What are water-borne diseases PDF? ›

Water borne diseases including cholera, Dracunculiasis, Typhoid fever, Diarrhea, Ulcers, Hepatitis, Arsenicosis, Respiratory Tract Infection, Kidney Damage, and Endocrine Damages are very risky for lives of individuals and especially for humans ultimately leading to death.

Which hepatitis is waterborne? ›

The hepatitis A virus (HAV) is transmitted through ingestion of contaminated food and water or through direct contact with an infectious person.

Is ringworm waterborne disease? ›

It is spread by direct contact with an infected person or animal, contact with soil or by indirect contact with items contaminated by the fungus (clothing, towels, bedclothes and toilet articles). On the scalp, ringworm begins in the form of a pimple sore, which then spreads into a ring shape.

Is chicken pox a water borne disease? ›

Chickenpox is an airborne disease which spreads easily through the coughs and sneezes of an infected person.

Is influenza A water borne disease? ›

Air Borne and Water Borne Diseases

Many common infections can spread by airborne transmission are tuberculosis, influenza, small pox. Waterborne diseases are caused by pathogenic microorganisms and most commonly transmitted through contaminated fresh water.

How can we prevent and control vector borne diseases? ›

Ensure your vaccinations are up to date for diseases prevalent in the area. 2. Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts and long trousers, tucked into socks or boots, and use insect repellent on exposed skin and clothing to protect yourself from being bitten by mosquitoes, sandflies or ticks.

What are 10 diseases caused by polluted land? ›

Diseases Caused by Soil Pollution
  • Cancer. Pesticides, benzene, chromium and weed killers are carcinogens which have been established to lead to all kinds of cancer. ...
  • Kidney and Liver Disease. ...
  • Brain and Nerve Damage. ...
  • Cholera and Dysentry.

Is measles a water borne disease? ›

So from the above discussion we can easily identify typhoid, cholera and dengue as the water borne disease while measles is an air borne disease. So the right answer is option (A). Risk factors of transmission of water borne diseases include poor hygienic conditions and absence of sanitization.

What measure would you take to prevent water borne diseases Class 12 Ncert? ›

One should drink bottled water or boiled or filter water the water being used for drinking and cooking to ensure all the pathogens are killed. 2. Regular cleaning of water containers i.e. Water jars/containers should be washed daily. We should check our water reservoirs regularly.

How can you avoid food and waterborne diseases? ›

Make sure to always wash your hands after visiting the toilet, changing nappies and before preparing or eating food. It's a good idea to always carry alcohol hand gel with you in case hand-washing facilities are poor or not available at all.

What is the difference between waterborne and water related diseases? ›

2.2.

The causes of water related disease include micro-organisms, parasites, toxins and chemical contamination of water. Other terms include 'waterborne disease', which implies direct spread and is used mainly to refer to disease caused by microbiological pathogens or chemical contaminants in water.

Which is not a water borne disease? ›

Therefore, Asthma is not a water borne disease while Cholera and Amoebiasis are water borne diseases as their causative agent spreads through contaminated water. Hepatitis A and E, poliomyelitis, diarrhoea, etc. Typhoid, Paratyphoid, dysentery, cholera, etc.

What causes cholera? ›

Cholera causes severe diarrhea and dehydration. Left untreated, cholera can be fatal within hours, even in previously healthy people. Modern sewage and water treatment have virtually eliminated cholera in industrialized countries. But cholera still exists in Africa, Southeast Asia and Haiti.

Is dengue spread through water? ›

Malaria is caused by a parasite, and a virus causes Dengue Fever. Both malaria and Dengue fever are carried by mosquitoes, which lay their larvae in still water.

Is diarrhoea a waterborne disease? ›

Infection: Diarrhoea is a symptom of infections caused by a host of bacterial, viral and parasitic organisms, most of which are spread by faeces-contaminated water. Infection is more common when there is a shortage of adequate sanitation and hygiene and safe water for drinking, cooking and cleaning.

How many people get water-borne diseases? ›

About 7.2 million Americans get sick every year from diseases spread through water.

How do waterborne diseases affect humans? ›

Some common water-related illnesses are diarrhea, giardiasis, dysentery, typhoid fever, E. Coli infection, and salmonellosis. Adverse health effects can include pain in the gastrointestinal, reproductive, neurological systems, and other symptoms. Continuous exposure can have long-lasting health impacts.

Is jaundice a waterborne disease? ›

The diseases like diarrhoea, typhoid, cholera, dysentery and jaundice are called water-borne diseases as they are caused due to the consumption of contaminated drinking water.

How can you prevent dysentery? ›

You can reduce your risk of getting dysentery by:
  1. washing your hands with soap and warm water after using the toilet and regularly throughout the day.
  2. washing your hands before handling, eating or cooking food.
  3. avoiding sharing towels.
  4. washing the laundry of an infected person on the hottest setting possible.

How can typhoid be prevented from spreading? ›

Vaccines
  1. Wash your hands. Frequent hand-washing in hot, soapy water is the best way to control infection. ...
  2. Avoid drinking untreated water. Contaminated drinking water is a particular problem in areas where typhoid fever is endemic. ...
  3. Avoid raw fruits and vegetables. ...
  4. Choose hot foods. ...
  5. Know where the doctors are.
3 Nov 2020

What is another name for cholera? ›

Cholera has been nicknamed the "blue death" because a person's skin may turn bluish-gray from extreme loss of fluids.

What are some examples of water and food borne diseases? ›

Food and Water Borne Diseases
  • Campylobacter.
  • Cryptosporidium.
  • E. coli infection.
  • Giardiasis (Giardia)
  • Hepatitis A.
  • Listeriosis.
  • Norovirus.
  • Salmonellosis (Salmonella)

What is water wash disease? ›

Water-washed diseases, such as skin and eye infections, are caused by lack of clean water for washing. • Water-based diseases, such as schistosomiasis, are spread by organisms that develop in water (intermediate hosts) and then become human parasites (skin penetration, ingestion).

Which part of the world is most affected by waterborne diseases? ›

According to an assessment commissioned by the United Nations, 4,000 children die each day as a result of diseases caused by ingestion of filthy water. The report says four out of every 10 people in the world, particularly those in Africa and Asia, do not have clean water to drink.

What are 4 water borne diseases? ›

Waterborne diseases

Data are available for some water-, sanitation- and hygiene-related diseases (which include salmonellosis, cholera, shigellosis), but for others such malaria, schistosomiasis or the most modern infections such legionellosis or SARS CoV the analyses remain to be done.

What are water borne diseases PDF? ›

Water borne diseases including cholera, Dracunculiasis, Typhoid fever, Diarrhea, Ulcers, Hepatitis, Arsenicosis, Respiratory Tract Infection, Kidney Damage, and Endocrine Damages are very risky for lives of individuals and especially for humans ultimately leading to death.

How can we prevent water borne diseases Class 9? ›

Use of bottled water, regular cleaning of water containers, maintain personal hygine, eating cooked and warm food, wash vegetables and fruits before cooking, maintain cleanliness in surroundings, proper dispose off of infant and toddler feces, avoid foods and fruit juices from roadside vendors, keep food and drinking ...

What are the four major types of water related diseases? ›

Common waterborne illnesses include typhoid, cholera, dysentery, gastroenteritis, and hepatitis.

Is malaria a waterborne disease? ›

Malaria may, to some extent, be a water-borne disease, but that the malaria plasmodium or poison gains admittance into the system wholly by way of the stomach, we think we have ample evidence to lead us to doubt.

Is dengue a waterborne disease? ›

Water-related diseases may be classified into waterborne, such as diarrhoeal diseases; water-based, such as schistosomiasis; and water-related vector-borne, such as dengue.

Which virus is waterborne infection? ›

Water-transmitted viral pathogens that are classified as having a moderate to high health significance by the World Health Organization (WHO) include adenovirus, astrovirus, hepatitis A and E viruses, rotavirus, norovirus and other caliciviruses, and enteroviruses, including coxsackieviruses and polioviruses [5].

What are some examples of water and food borne diseases? ›

Food and Water Borne Diseases
  • Campylobacter.
  • Cryptosporidium.
  • E. coli infection.
  • Giardiasis (Giardia)
  • Hepatitis A.
  • Listeriosis.
  • Norovirus.
  • Salmonellosis (Salmonella)

How do waterborne diseases affect humans? ›

Some common water-related illnesses are diarrhea, giardiasis, dysentery, typhoid fever, E. Coli infection, and salmonellosis. Adverse health effects can include pain in the gastrointestinal, reproductive, neurological systems, and other symptoms. Continuous exposure can have long-lasting health impacts.

What measure would you take to prevent water borne diseases Class 12 Ncert? ›

One should drink bottled water or boiled or filter water the water being used for drinking and cooking to ensure all the pathogens are killed. 2. Regular cleaning of water containers i.e. Water jars/containers should be washed daily. We should check our water reservoirs regularly.

How can you avoid food and waterborne diseases? ›

Make sure to always wash your hands after visiting the toilet, changing nappies and before preparing or eating food. It's a good idea to always carry alcohol hand gel with you in case hand-washing facilities are poor or not available at all.

Videos

1. Ask a Doctor: What are the Causes, Symptoms, Treatment of Waterborne Diseases
(KHON2 News)
2. Waterborne Illnesses
(Boat of Knowledge Ohio University)
3. Monsoon Illnesses - Causes & Prevention Explained | Dr. Sushila Kataria | Part 2 | Medanta
(Medanta)
4. Preventing waterborne illness
(WDHN)
5. Waterborne Diseases: Transmission, Bacterial, Protozoan, Viral, Parasitic - Environmental Sciences
(TestPrep)
6. Protection to WATERBORNE DISEASES: Diarrheal Form & Cholera
(Doctors On TV)

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