Diseases and Disorders

What All Are the 7 Waterborne Diseases Can be Prevented?

Last updated on December 10th, 2022 at 06:42 pm

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

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.

7 Most Common Waterborne Diseases

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, diarrhoea is the central symptom. Learn about seven waterborne diseases.

  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.
  2. 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 diarrhoea. 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.
  3. Giardia: Giardia is a 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.
  4. Dysentery: An intestinal infection, dysentery is a waterborne disease characterized by severe diarrhoea as well as blood or mucus in the stool. Dysentery is a 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 faecal matter. If someone experiencing dysentery cannot replace fluids quickly enough, their life could be at risk.
  5. Escherichia Coli (E. coli): E. coli is a bacterium with various strains, some dangerous and some beneficial. For example, E. coli bacteria is important in creating a healthy intestinal tract.
    • 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 minced 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 diarrhoea contains blood.
  6. 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.
    The infection usually goes away in a few weeks, but it’s possible that it can become severe and last several months.
  7. Salmonella: Most cases of salmonella come from ingesting food or water contaminated with faeces. 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.

Learn about Airborne Diseases

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