• 08Jul

    What are dirty water diseases?

    Consumption of water is essential as it is required to maintain metabolism of tissues and then for the excretion of metabolic products. The amount of water in our body amounts to 60% to 70% of the total body weight. The purity of the water depends on the location and other factors.

    Dirty water diseases

    There are many types of diseases which occur due to dirty water. Broadly, they are divided into four types:

    1. Water borne diseases: They occur due to consumption of dirty water which is contaminated with human or animal faeces and urine. It contains pathogenic bacteria, viruses and parasites. These are called diarrheal or enteric diseases.

    • Amoebiasis: This is caused by Entamoeba histolytica present in the contaminated water. The incubation period of this infection is 2 to 4 weeks. This is the period from occurrence of infection to development of symptoms. It causes abdominal cramps and diarrhea. This may result in dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.

    • Giardiasis: It is caused by parasite called Giardia lamblia. It occurs due to swallowing of water in swimming pool. The patient develops nausea, abdominal cramps, bloating and diarrhea.
    • Cholera: This is caused by Vibrio cholera, which is a type of bacteria. Patients present with vomiting, watery diarrhea and leg cramps.
    • Typhoid or salmonellosis: This is a bacterial disease transmitted through consumption of dirty water, poultry, eggs, meat, milk, smoked fish, peanut butter and juice. After an incubation period of 1 to 3 days the patient develops fever, chills, headache, nausea, pain abdomen, diarrhea and muscle cramps. Some patients become chronic carriers and continue to pass bacteria in faeces.
    • Dysentry: It is caused by Salmonella and Shigella species of bacteria. There is passage of blood and mucus with faeces. Vomiting of blood may also occur.
    • Hepatitis A: This virus is ingested along dirty water, salads, shellfish and milk products. The incubation period is about 4 weeks. This virus multiplies in liver and the affected person develops jaundice. Other features include fever, fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain and dark urine.
      There are many types of diseases which occur due to dirty water.

      There are many types of diseases which occur due to dirty water.

    • Viral gastroenteritis: It is caused by Calicivirus and presentation in a patient includes mild fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and muscle cramps.
    • Parasitic diseases: These includetaeniasis, ascariasis, hookworm, trichuriasis and strongyloidiasis

    2. Water washed diseases: They occur during water shortage when contaminated water is used resulting in poor hygiene. The diseases involved include scabies, trachoma, lice and typhus.

    3. Water based diseases: These diseases are due to dirty water containing organisms bearing disease causing parasites. Water forms part of the life cycle of these parasites. They are schistosomiasis and dracunculiasis.

    4. Water related diseases: These diseases are caused by insect vectors like mosquitoes that breed in dirty water. Examples include malaria, filariasis, dengue haemorrhagic fever and yellow fever.


    Clean water is essential for reducing the incidence and prevalence of dirty water diseases. Now, this is scientifically proven fact that prevention of the above diseases can be achieved by safe disposal of faeces and availability of adequate clean water for drinking and other uses. This is achieved by:

    Water disinfection: This is done to kill any disease causing organisms present is water. Steps are also taken that these pathogens do not grow again in the water once it is disinfected. This is achieved by two methods which include chemical oxidation using chlorine, chlorine dioxide or ozone and with Ultra-Violet (UV) irradiation.

     Water delivery: It is also important to ensure a safe system of water delivery. The water distribution pipes should be away and above the level of sewerage pipes.

    Water quality monitoring: A regular monitoring of water quality should be ensured.

    Dirty water diseases are a public health problem. As per the WHO estimates, millions of people will continue to die due to poor sanitation and lack of clean drinking water. These diseases are preventable. The only solution to this problem is to use local resources of water by improving the water storage systems and increasing public awareness through health education.

    Anna L.

    It’s all about health!
    I have academic background in drugs related Chemical Technology, as well as extensive professional experience in pharma and medical companies. My main area of interest is everyday life medicine. The goal of my articles is to give people informative answers to the questions that bother them, to dispel doubts and some common misbeliefs and also to inspire everyone to keep healthy lifestyle.

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