What are the Different Types of Water Borne Diseases?

Article Details
  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 27 September 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
U.S. companies first sold energy drinks in the early 1900s; they contained radium, which causes radiation sickness.  more...

October 19 ,  1987 :  The Dow Jones experienced its second-largest percentage drop in history.  more...

Water borne diseases are a group of diseases that are caused by consuming contaminated water. Some common contaminants include bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Some of the more well-known water borne diseases include dysentery, cholera, and typhoid fever. Treatment for these conditions is individualized and based on the type of illness, the specific symptoms present, and the overall health of the patient.

Dysentery is one of the more common diseases carried in water. Dysentery is caused by a type of bacteria known as shigella dysenteriae, which is often present in contaminated waters throughout the world. Symptoms of dysentery include frequent bowel movements, often containing blood or mucus, and in more severe cases, vomiting blood. Severe intestinal cramps are often present as well. Treatment for this condition typically involves the use of a prescription medication known as metronidazole, although other medications may sometimes be prescribed.

Cholera is one of the most well-known potentially fatal water borne diseases. This disease is caused by the bacteria vibrio cholerae. Symptoms often include nausea, vomiting, and watery diarrhea. In severe cases, the body could go into shock, causing various body systems to stop functioning properly. Without immediate medical attention, death could occur within a matter of hours. Prompt treatment with antibiotics and fluid replacement therapy greatly increase the patient's chance of survival, and many patients are able to recover completely from this illness.


Also among the known diseases carried in water is a condition known as typhoid fever. This illness is caused by the bacteria known as salmonella typhi. Symptoms of typhoid fever may include elevated body temperature, sweating, and diarrhea. Treatment involves the use of antibiotics and fluid replacement therapy. This often consists of an intravenous line placed in a vein to provide necessary fluids and electrolytes.

Gastroenteritis is one of the water borne diseases caused by a viral infection. Nausea, vomiting, and fever are common symptoms of gastroenteritis. Treatment for this condition involves replacing lost fluids. This can often be accomplished at home by drinking plenty of clear liquids. In severe cases, IV therapy may be required.

Water borne diseases may also be caused by parasites, as is the case with enterobiasis, more commonly known as pinworms. Symptoms include anal itching and insomnia. Over-the-counter medications are available in most drug stores to treat this common condition. As with any of the water born diseases, any troublesome symptoms should be reported to a physician for proper diagnosis and individualized treatment options.


You might also Like


Discuss this Article

Post 3

Water borne illnesses are going to get worse and worse as climate change gets worse.

Not just because they always run rampant after a natural disaster like a flood or a hurricane. Although that will be a big problem as well.

But also because often parasites and bacteria are limited by the average temperatures of the climate around them. It's another reason there are so many water borne diseases in Africa.

It's already happening with trees and things. Diseases that were once killed off over the winter, giving the tree a break, now continue unstopped. The poor tree eventually dies.

We need to wise up and do something about climate change before it's too late.

Post 2

I've suffered from amoebic dysentery and from giardia. Neither are pleasant walks in the park, although that said, neither were as terrible as they might have been.

We are lucky to have medication available to knock out most of the more common waterborne diseases, but even more we are lucky to have good nutrition and the kind of good health that allows me to brush off having these diseases as minor nuisances.

Amoebic dysentery, for example, is rampant in developing countries. And if a malnourished child with no access to medication gets it it can be a death sentence.

Post 1

It's a shame that people have allowed some of these diseases to infect animals in the wild where previously they didn't exist.

This is the reason why you shouldn't drink water even from a clear stream. You don't know if it is infected with bacteria that can cause a serious illness. All it takes is a deer or a wild goat or something like that fouling the water upstream.

You don't want to suffer from these waterborne diseases while camping in the wild, believe me. Even if it is not dangerous, it will be very unpleasant. So be sure to boil all your water even if it looks completely pure.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?