Water Borne Diseases Causes: Symptoms, Treatment And Prevention

Human beings are surrounded by sea of microorganisms. They inhabit in every corner of our environment. Most of the microbes have quiet and even symbiotic existence. However, there are several other pathogenic microorganisms which invade and colonize in our body producing devastating effect on our health. They enter in our body through various channels; one of them is through water.

Water borne diseases are infections which occur by drinking water that is contaminated by disease causing pathogenic microorganisms. Millions of people die every year due to water borne diseases. These diseases are more prevalent in developing countries, where hygiene and sanitation facility is lacking.

Several water borne diseases such as diarrhea and dysentery, cholera, polio, hepatitis, typhoid fever occur by consuming water contaminated with animal and human waste. In fact childhood diarrhea is one of the major causes of death in developing countries.

Most water borne diseases are preventable. Therefore more attention should be leveraged on teaching healthy hygienic practices and sanitation among people.

How Are Water Borne Diseases Caused?

Water borne diseases are caused by drinking contaminated water. These diseases are common in developing countries where basic sanitation facilities are obscure. Poor awareness of hygienic practices among the masses is also a reason for its spread.

Microorganisms present in feces of animals and humans enter into human body when it comes in contact with drinking water. Contaminated water is the main source its spread. Water borne disease is more common during rainy season and floods.

Surface water can also be contaminated from sewer pipes, septic fields, chemical wastes etc. Aside from this, water borne diseases can also spread through contaminated hands and cooking vessels used while preparing food or beverages.

The microorganism present in contaminated water can also infiltrate in the wounds, and nose when a person comes in contact with it, for example swimming in contaminated pond or river.

Symptoms Of Water Borne Diseases

Contaminated water with animal and human excreta can cause several diseases such as typhoid fever, cholera, polio myelitis, diarrhea and dysentery. They are mainly related gastrointestinal infection. Sometimes it can also affect other systems of body such as central nervous system and skin. Several chemicals can seep into the reservoir of drinking water leading to chemical poisoning such as arsenic poisoning.

Each disease manifests its own symptoms. Diarrhea is characterized by frequent loose stools with abdominal cramps, dehydration, fever and weakness. The symptoms of dysentery are bloody stool with mucus, fever and abdominal cramps.

Polio is a neuromuscular problem where the patient affected suffers from paralysis of limbs. Typhoid is characterized by high fever, rash, abdominal pain, headache, vomiting, lack of appetite, and weakness.

Treatment And Prevention Of Water Borne Diseases

The principle management of water borne disease is to manage acute febrile condition, replace fluid loss from body, adequate nutritional support and good nursing care in addition to antibiotic therapy.

In severe diarrhea or dehydration intravenous replacement of fluids and electrolytes are needed. Patient has to be hospitalized for the treatment.

Once patient is able to eat, he should begin with soft and semisolid diet consisting of soups and vegetable broths. Cold water sponging will help to reduce high temperature. Patient should take rest during his illness.


Water borne disease is preventable disease. Few important preventive steps taken will reduce morbidity and mortality to a great extent.

  • Boil water before drinking.
  • Make certain the source of water before drinking it.
  • In case where boiled water is not available, drink filtered and distilled water.
  • Wash your hands after using toilet and defecation.
  • Keep your fingernails short.
  • Eat cooked and warm food.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before eating food even though you are using fork and spoon.
  • Avoid drinking and eating food from street vendors.
  • Cover food and beverage utensils.
  • Sanitize your hands while eating in a restaurant with a hand sanitizer.
  • Carry your own water bottle whenever you go travel or use bottled water.