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Water Borne Diseases- List, Risks, and Prevention

By Dr. Ram Singh in Internal Medicine

Jan 24 , 2022 | 2 min read

Do you know why the intake of purified water is emphasized so much? It is because certain diseases can be caused due to intake of contaminated water. Let's talk about some waterborne conditions, their risks and their prevention.

Here is the list of some of the waterborne diseases-

Typhoid fever

Typhoid fever is caused by Salmonella Typhi bacteria and can affect many organs. If you don't take the proper treatment, it can lead to various complications and even death? Don't neglect symptoms of typhoid fever such as- 
  • High-grade fever
  • General body ache
  • You can have watery diarrhoea due to this, leading to dehydration.
  • Sweating
  • Dry Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation.

Acute Gastroenteritis

Acute Gastroenteritis is another bacterial infection. You can have watery diarrhoea due to this, leading to dehydration. If you ignore it, it can prove to be fatal.

Here are some of the symptoms-
  • Watery Diarrhoea (Rice Water Coloured)
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration- Signs of dehydration are-
  • Low BP
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Muscle cramps
  • Sunken eyes
  • Dry skin
  • Dry mouth
  • Extreme thirst
  • Little or no urination
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability

Giardiasis

Giardiasis is a waterborne infection caused by a parasite known as Giardia Lamba. It affects the small intestine and causes the following symptoms-

  • Diarrhea – postprandial (after food) 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Dysentery (Amoebasis)

Dysentery is the inflammation of the intestine, particularly the colon and can be caused by bacteria or parasites. It causes symptoms such as- 

  • Blood or mucus in faeces.
  • Incomplete evacuation
  • Repeated urge to pass stools
  • Abdominal pain during passing stools
  • Fatigue

Escherichia coli infection (Food Poisoning)

E. Coli usually normally lives in your gut and is harmless. But some strains can cause diarrhoea if you get exposed to contaminated water or food. Some of the symptoms of E coli infection are-
  • Watery to bloody diarrhoea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Low grade fever

Hepatitis A & E

Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver caused by the Hepatitis A virus. It is not necessary that symptoms will appear if you get infected with the hepatitis A virus. But if you get symptoms, usually after 3-4 weeks, they are-
  • Low-grade fever
  • Sudden nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes
  • Light colored stools
  • Dark urine
  • Itching

Polio

Most people suffering from polio don't have any symptoms. 

However, a fraction of the infected people show flu-like symptoms such as-

A smaller fraction of the infected population will show more severe symptoms of brain and spinal cord damage such as-

  • Paresthesia- numbness of extremities
  • Paralysis
  • Meningitis(inflammation of layer covering the brain and spinal cord)

Cholera


Cholera is yet another bacterial infection and is caused by Vibrio Cholerae. You can have watery diarrhoea due to this, leading to dehydration. If you ignore it, it can prove to be fatal. 
The symptoms are the same as Acute Gastroenteritis.

Worm Infestation

Symptoms:

  • Abdomen Pain
  • Loose stools
  • Poor appetite 
  • Anaemia
  • Perianal itching

Risks factors of waterborne diseases

  • Lack of clean drinking water
  • Poor sanitisation
  • Lack of personal hygiene & Hand Hygiene
  • Lack of awareness

Prevention of waterborne diseases

Drink purified water

  • Avoid swallowing water while swimming
  • Do not consume water directly from rivers, lakes or ponds
  • Do not drink tap water.
  • Use filters or RO to purify the drinking water
  • Boiling water before use

Maintain personal hygiene

You should frequently wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. You should always wash hands-

  • After using the toilet and after changing the diaper of your child.
  • After handling animals and cleaning their faeces.
  • Before eating and preparing food
  • Cut nails periodically
  • Discourage common towel usage

Environmental management

Flush properly. Disinfect the toilet with a chlorine based detergent and hot water. Discourage open air defecation.

Vaccination

Get yourself vaccinated for diseases such as Hepatitis A, Typhoid.

Food safety

  • Wash all the fruits and vegetables before consumption.
  • Drink pasteurised milk and have only pasteurised milk products.
  • Cook all kinds of meat properly at a temperature of 71 degrees celsius.
  • Keep cooked food and raw food separately.
  • Clean the utensils properly. 
  • Do not prepare food if you have symptoms of waterborne diseases.