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7 Most Common Waterborne Illnesses

by Yolando B. Adams

Water is essential to our survival, but it can also make us sick. Not that we should avoid water altogether – just be careful when and where we swim and drink. Aside from exercising caution, knowing which waterborne illnesses are the most common can help us be more alert and take steps to avoid them.

 Waterborne Illnesses

There are many different types of waterborne illnesses, but some are more common than others. The seven most common waterborne illnesses are:

1. Cryptosporidium-

This parasite is found in freshwaters, such as lakes and rivers. It can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and cramps. One can get infected by swallowing contaminated water, and the symptoms usually appear within 2-10 days. If you have cryptosporidium, you should drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and see a doctor if the diarrhea is severe.

2. E. coli

E. coli is a bacteria that lives in the intestines of animals and humans. It can be found in contaminated water or food, and can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and cramps. One can get infected by swallowing contaminated water, and the symptoms usually appear within 2-5 days. If you have E. coli, you should drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and see a doctor if the diarrhea is severe.

3. Giardia

Giardia is a parasite that lives in freshwaters, such as lakes and rivers. It can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and cramps. One can get infected by swallowing contaminated water, and the symptoms usually appear within 2-5 days. If you have Giardia, you should drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and see a doctor if the diarrhea is severe.

4. Legionnaires’ disease

Legionnaires’ disease is a lung infection caused by bacteria. It can be found in contaminated water, such as in hot tubs, and can cause coughing, chest pain, and shortness of breath. One can get infected by breathing in contaminated water droplets, and the symptoms usually appear within 2-10 days. If you have Legionnaires’ disease, you should see a doctor immediately.

5. Shigellosis

Shigellosis is an intestinal infection caused by bacteria. It can be found in contaminated water or food, and can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and cramps. One can get infected by swallowing contaminated water, and the symptoms usually appear within 2-5 days. If you have shigellosis, you should drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and see a doctor if the diarrhea is severe.

6. Typhoid fever

Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection that can be found in contaminated water or food. It can cause fever, headache, and stomach pain. One can get infected by swallowing contaminated water, and the symptoms usually appear within 1-2 weeks. If you have typhoid fever, you should see a doctor immediately.

7. Vibrio

Vibrio is a bacteria that lives in saltwater, such as in the ocean. It can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and cramps. One can get infected by swallowing contaminated water, and the symptoms usually appear within 2-3 days. If you have Vibrio, you should drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and see a doctor if the diarrhea is severe.

These are the seven most common waterborne illnesses. Remember to exercise caution when swimming or drinking water, and see a doctor if you have any severe symptoms.

How to avoid waterborne illnesses

There are some simple steps you can take to avoid getting sick from contaminated water:

  1. Don’t swim in freshwaters, such as lakes and rivers, if you have open cuts or wounds.
  2. Don’t drink from freshwaters, such as lakes and rivers, unless you boiled the water or used a water filter from Utah or from wherever you are located.
  3. Don’t eat raw or undercooked food, especially shellfish. This includes food from street vendors.
  4. Wash your hands thoroughly, especially after using the toilet or changing diapers.
  5. Don’t swallow water when swimming in the ocean or other bodies of saltwater.
  6. If you have a weakened immune system, avoid swimming in public pools or hot tubs.
  7. If you are traveling to a country with a high risk of waterborne illness, consult your doctor before your trip. They may recommend vaccines or other precautions.
  8. When traveling, only drink bottled water or water that has been boiled. Avoid ice cubes, as they may be made from contaminated water.
  9. When camping or hiking, bring your own water or purify water from natural sources before drinking it.
  10. In general, use caution when swimming or drinking water, especially if you have a weakened immune system. See a doctor if you have any severe symptoms.

These are some simple steps you can take to avoid getting sick from contaminated water. Remember to exercise caution and use common sense to protect yourself and your family.

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