What are water related diseases & their causes?                                                   

                                                  SOME WATER-RELATED DISEASES AND THEIR CAUSATIVE ORGANISMS

Disease Causative
Mode of Spread Symptoms
Typhoid Salmonella typhi Ingestion of contaminated food, water, milk, unwashed raw vegetables and flies Continuous fever which progressively increases day by day, the temperature being higher in the evening than in the morning accompanied by body aches, headache and constipation, Hemorrhage from an ulceration in the small intestine
Cholera Vibrio cholerae Ingestion of water or food contaminated by the bacteria from the stool of a cholera patient Painless diarrhea followed by vomiting; patient may pass 30 to 40 stools per day which soon becomes typically watery and colourless with flakes of mucous floating in them
Shigella spp. Through contaminated food, water and by direct personal contact Diarrhea, with the presence of blood and mucous in the stools accompanied by severe gripping pain in the abdomen. Stools are not too frequent (4-10 per day) and the fecal matter is scanty. Patient looks ill.
Leptospirosis  Leptospira Primary hosts are rodents, which carry the organisms in their kidneys and the patient may become infected by wading or swimming in water contaminated with the rodent's urine Fever, pain in legs, nausea, vomiting are common, congestion of the conjunctival blood vessels around the corneas of the eyes
Infective hepatitis Hepatitis virus Stools that contain virus contaminating the water and food Loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea accompanied by fever. The urine is dark coloured. Eye and skin have yellow coloration
Amoebic dysentery Entamoeba histolytica Ingestion of cysts in food and water Abdominal discomfort to diarrhea, with or without the presence of blood or mucus in the stools, accompanied by fever, chills and gripping pain in the abdomen
Diarrhea Giardia(=Lamblia) intestinalis Cysts which are voided with the feces and enter the new hosts in food or water Intestinal disorders leading to epigastric pain, abdominal discomfort, loss of appetite, headache and loose bowels
Bilharzia Schistosoma spp. Eggs of the flukes pass out with human feces or urine and if they reach fresh water, develop into miracidia larvae which infect snails. The cercaria stage develops in the snails and on leaving the host, cercaria penetrate the skin of humans wading in the water. Allergy-like itch, rash, aches, fever, eosinophilia, etc. When infection is heavy, the eggs may be deposited in the arterioles of the lungs causing cardio-pulmonary schistosomiasis or corpulmonale or ayerza disease, which may lead to congestive heart failure
Guinea worm Dracunculus medinensis Unfiltered water containing the infected copepods Blister near the ankle, burns around the blister, allergy and aches

Protection against water-borne diseases

It is necessary to be careful about the water you drink and the water you bathe in, since water is a carrier for a number of diseases.

Drinking water

  • Filter water with a good quality purifier (ultraviolet or reverse osmosis)
  • Boil un-treated water to 100°C for 10 to 15 minutes
  • All fruit and vegetables that will not be cooked must be peeled after soaking them in treated water
  • Do not eat ice-creams, drinks, etc., sold by street vendors
  • Clean your teeth preferably with treated water

Bathing Water
Bathing can expose the body to several diseases, notably bilharzia, leptospirosis and diarrheic diseases. Mud and sand can contain parasite larvae.


  • Walking with bare feet
  • Bathing in untreated water

Safe water supply
This is very essential. In rural areas this can be achieved by chlorination of water and replacement of shallow wells by sanitary wells.

Sanitation barrier
This implies the proper disposal of excreta so that infection does not reach water, soil, milk, food or flies.

Health education
It is essential to educate people for improvement in sanitation and personal hygiene.