Waterborne Illnesses Definition

Diseases that result from pathogens transmitted by drinking or otherwise consuming contaminated water. Heavy metals and industrial chemicals may also contaminate water supplies, causing poisoning. People may acquire waterborne infections through drinking water supplies or by swallowing water during recreational activities in lakes, rivers, pools, hot tubs, and similar sources.

Drinking water supplies in the United States must meet established DRINKING WATER STANDARDS for purity, which state and local health departments monitor through regular and spontaneous testing. Water that does not come from a community water supply or properly maintained and disinfected private well should be boiled for one minute, then cooled, before drinking or using to prepare food.

Environmental water sources such as lakes and rivers contain numerous BACTERIA and parasites that can cause illness with contact or consumption. Contamination is higher after steady or heavy rain, as runoff water that drains into streams, rivers, and lakes is likely to contain animal excrement as well as soil-based microbes. Recreational activities such as boating, swimming, water-skiing, and fishing hold increased risk for exposure to such pathogens.

It is important to avoid swallowing environmental water and to shower to rinse the skin after being in the water. People who hike and camp in back-country areas should use appropriate decontamination or filtration methods to draw drinking water from natural sources. A rapidly moving stream or river does not necessarily contain fewer microbes, and the clearness of water’s appearance does not mean it is safe to drink.

Common Waterborne Illnesses

COMMON WATERBORNE ILLNESSES
CRYPTOSPORIDIOSISEscherichia coli INFECTION
GIARDIASISHEPATITIS A
AMEBIASISCYCLOSPORIASIS
CAMPYLOBACTERIOSISSALMONELLOSIS
SHIGELLOSISviral GASTROENTERITIS

See also COMMUNITY SANITATIONENVIRONMENTAL HAZARD EXPOSUREFOODBORNE ILLNESSES; FOOD SAFETYHEAVY-METAL POISONING; HEPATITIS PREVENTION; PARASITE; POISON PREVENTION.

Waterborne Illnesses (diseases)
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