Waterborne diseases are caused by pathogenic microorganisms which are directly transmitted when contaminated fresh water is consumed. Contaminated fresh water, used in the preparation of food, can be the source of foodborne disease through consumption of the same microorganisms. According to the World Health Organization, diarrheal disease accounts for an estimated 4.1% of the total DALY global burden of disease and is responsible for the deaths of 1.8 million people every year. It was estimated that 88% of that burden is attributable to unsafe water supply, sanitation and hygiene, and is mostly concentrated in children in developing countries.
Waterborne disease can be caused by protozoa, viruses, or bacteria, many of which are intestinal parasites.
Even before the establishment of the Germ theory of disease, traditional practices eschewed water in favor of beer, wine and tea. In the camel caravans that crossed Central Asia along the Silk Road, the explorer Owen Lattimore noted "The reason we drank so much tea was because of the bad water. Water alone, unboiled, is never drunk. There is a superstition that it causes blisters on the feet."
In severe forms it is known to be one of the most rapidly fatal illnesses known. Symptoms include very watery diarrhoea, nausea, cramps, nosebleed, rapid pulse, vomiting, and hypovolemic shock (in severe cases), at which point death can occur in 12–18 hours.
Contaminated water: the organism thrives in warm aquatic environments.
Pontiac fever produces milder symptoms resembling acute influenza without pneumonia. Legionnaires’ disease has severe symptoms such as fever, chills, pneumonia (with cough that sometimes produces sputum), ataxia, anorexia, muscle aches, malaise and occasionally diarrhea and vomiting
Ingestion of water contaminated with feces of an infected person
Characterized by sustained fever up to 40°C (104°F), profuse sweating, diarrhea, less commonly a rash may occur. Symptoms progress to delirium and the spleen and liver enlarge if untreated. In this case it can last up to four weeks and cause death.
Waterborne diseases can have a significant impact on the economy, locally as well as (inter-)nationally. People who are infected by a waterborne disease are usually confronted with related costs and not seldom with a huge financial burden. This is especially the case in less developed countries. The financial losses are mostly caused by e.g. costs for medical treatment and medication, costs for transport, special food, and by the loss of manpower. Many families are even selling their land to pay for e.g. treatment in a proper hospital. On average, a family spends about 10% of the monthly households income per person infected.
Water-related Diseases, Contaminants, and Injuries Listing of water-related diseases, contaminants and injuries with alphabetical index, listing by type of disease (bacterial, parasitic, etc.) and listing by symptoms caused (diarrhea, skin rash, and many more ) including links to other resources (CDC's Healthy Water site)