How to Prevent Waterborne Diseases

Waterborne diseases are caused by microorganisms that enter the body when contaminated water is drunk. People can also get sick with these harmful diseases when they come in contact with water that contains bacteria, viruses, or parasites through cooking, bathing, swimming, and washing. Everyone is at risk from contaminated water and suffering waterborne diseases but people in poor living conditions are more prone to these ailments. A World Health Organization fact sheet reveals that at least 1.7 billion people worldwide used a drinking water source that was contaminated with feces in 2022.

Having potable drinking water is essential to prevent waterborne diseases from spreading. Unicef reported that nearly 400,000 children under five years old die every year due to a lack of safe water, sanitation, and hygiene. Waterborne diseases are dangerous when left untreated. Learning essential information about these illnesses, including the causes of waterborne diseases, can contribute to their prevention and keep you and your family safe and healthy.

Common Types of Waterborne Diseases

1. Dysentery

Dysentery is an infection of the intestines that is caused by Shigella bacteria or amoebas. Common symptoms include diarrhea, mucus or blood in the stools, stomach cramps, and abdominal pain. An antibiotic is usually prescribed for its treatment.

2. Cholera

Like other waterborne diseases, cholera can be fatal if proper medication like oral or intravenous hydration and antibiotics is not administered quickly. Patients with this bacterial infection experience vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, nausea, and muscle cramps.

3. Acute gastroenteritis

Acute gastroenteritis is a bacterial infection with symptoms such as watery diarrhea, dehydration, vomiting, and low blood pressure. Disregarding the immediate treatment of acute gastroenteritis can be fatal to your health.

4. Typhoid fever

This bacterial infection is caused by Salmonella Typhi and spreads through contaminated water or food. It can lead to severe complications and even death when typhoid fever is not treated immediately. Symptoms include fever, constipation, fatigue, sweating, and body pain. 

5. E. coli infection

This illness is transmitted when a person consumes food or water that is contaminated with animal waste. Medications include antibiotics and oral rehydration. Diarrhea, fever, stools in the blood, vomiting, and kidney failure in serious cases are the common symptoms of E. coli infection.

6. Polio

Unlike other waterborne diseases, most individuals suffering from polio show no symptoms. However, those few people who are infected have symptoms like back pain, neck pain, headache, and fever.

7. Hepatitis A

A viral infection, Hepatitis A affects the liver. The Hepatitis A virus (HAV) causes this ailment and is transmitted from contaminated water or food. Symptoms such as light-colored stools, jaundice, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain usually appear after 3 to 4 weeks. Prescribed treatments for this disease are frequent fluid intake for rehydration, oral medication, and alcohol withdrawal.

It is important to know the sources of these waterborne diseases to keep yourself and your family from suffering any of the ailments.

Causes of Waterborne Diseases

1. Poor sanitation

Lack of proper sanitation facilities like toilets and good wastewater management systems can contaminate the water source. Deadly pathogens can enter the water supply due to incorrect human waste disposal and the absence of treatment facilities.

2. Microorganism contamination

Microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, and parasites can penetrate water sources. Sewage and fecal substances coming from humans and animals can contaminate the water, causing waterborne diseases to spread. 

3. Lack of potable drinking water

Drinking water that has no proper disinfection can harbor microorganisms that are dangerous to health.

4. Natural calamities

Natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes can result in water source contamination due to pollutants and pathogens. Poor maintenance of water pipelines and damaged infrastructure cause the spread of waterborne diseases because drinking and sewage water are mixed. Water and food contaminated by animal waste can also transmit diseases.

5. Agricultural overflow

There is a potential risk of transmission of waterborne diseases when pesticides, fertilizers, and animal waste used in agriculture have runoff in nearby bodies of water. They carry with them bacteria and chemicals that can contaminate water sources.

6. Industrial releases  

Industrial discharges such as chemicals, pollutants, and other toxic substances can contaminate water and cause the transmission of harmful waterborne diseases.

The first line of defense against waterborne diseases is prevention. By taking preventive measures, you can protect yourself and your family from their harmful effects. Here are 7 tips on how to prevent waterborne diseases from spreading.

Prevention Tips on Waterborne Diseases

1. Practice good personal hygiene.

Always observe good personal hygiene. This will reduce your chances of developing waterborne diseases. Frequent and proper handwashing using soap and water is important. Wash hands thoroughly during these times:

  • After using the bathroom
  • Before and after preparing a meal
  • Before and after eating
  • After changing a diaper
  • After cleaning animal waste
  • After taking care of a person sick with diarrhea  
  • After gardening

If soap and water are not easily accessible, you can sanitize and disinfect your hands using alcohol.  Always carry alcohol inside your bag. BestLab 75% Isopropyl Alcohol Premium with Honey, Lavender and Acai Berry- 3.5L  has honey extracts that moisturize the skin even with repeated use. This fresh-smelling isopropyl alcohol has effective antimicrobial activity that can help in fighting against harmful bacteria and viruses.

2. Have a sanitized environment.

Waterborne diseases develop due to an unsanitized environment. To prevent this, clean the drains and sterilize all open water sources to have a clean and safe environment.

3. Drink only clean and purified water.

Here are water safety tips to prevent being infected with waterborne diseases:

  • Never drink tap water.
  • Consume only properly treated water. 
  • Avoid swallowing water while swimming in pools and hot tubs.
  • Do not drink water straight from lakes, ponds, streams, or rivers.

4. Disinfect water.

Access to clean water can prevent the outbreak of waterborne diseases. But what happens during emergencies when there is no available safe water to use? One of the simplest ways is to use chemical tablets to disinfect water. Make sure to read carefully the instructions before using them. 

5. Get vaccinated regularly.

Vaccination can save lives and prevent untimely deaths caused by waterborne diseases like Hepatitis A, typhoid, and cholera. Getting immunized can strengthen the body’s immune system to minimize the signs and symptoms of diseases and to help in recovering faster.

6. Practice good environmental management.

One way how to prevent waterborne diseases from spreading is to observe environmental management. Flush the stool in the toilet properly. Clean the toilet and its surrounding area using hot water and chlorine-based disinfectant. Never urinate outside.

7. Have an awareness campaign.

One of the reasons why waterborne diseases are frequently unnoticed is due to the lack of awareness of many people. Spreading information campaigns and teaching family and friends about the harmful effects of these ailments can help reduce the chances of getting sick. Intervention and necessary treatments can be administered to avoid deaths.


ALSO READ: Hygiene and Sanitation Related Diseases You Need to be Aware Of


People can suffer from waterborne diseases if there is no available clean and safe drinking water. Consuming water contaminated by human or animal waste can lead to health risks that include death in severe cases if they are not treated immediately. Being aware of these waterborne diseases can help you detect the early signs and symptoms. Several causes contribute to the transmission of these illnesses so taking preventive measures like proper hygiene practices, drinking clean water, and vaccination can lessen contamination risks.


Using wipes can be an extra protection after washing the hands thoroughly. Bestlab Jeju Aloe Fresh Hand and Face Wipes-100s can clean, disinfect, and moisturize the skin after every use. It has an anti-bacterial and antiseptic formula that can remove dirt and germs that cause sickness. The wipes are gentle on the skin and can relieve skin redness and itchiness with their aloe vera and cucumber extracts. Convenient to use, you can bring these wipes anywhere you go. Check out BestLab’s selections of face and hand wipes.