Waterborne illnesses are caused by consuming unfiltered drinking water and inadequate sanitation. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 3.4 million people die every year after being infected with a water-related disease, the most common cause of death throughout the world. While the United States possesses a public water stock that is considered one of the safest in the world, many Americans still catch serious diseases from pathogens that manage to invade our water supply.
If the water supply is infected with dangerous bacteria or viruses, and we use this water for consumption, making ice, preparing meals, washing uncooked produce, swimming, brushing our teeth, or cleaning contacts, we run the risk of becoming infected and exhibiting signs of illness. Signs of illness can range from moderate to critical, and while there are remedies, we must take these diseases very seriously.
So what is the best way to take precautions against these diseases? Proper water filtration and correct disposal of infectious waste items help prevent pollution, while individual personal cleanliness makes a big difference toward obstructing the spread of disease. Here are some simple steps you can take to help stop waterborne illness:
- Clean hands completely after using the bathroom, changing a baby’s diaper, caring for someone with diarrhea, working with animals, gardening, and before and after preparing meals and eating.
- Consume only filtered water; do not drink water in swimming pools, hot tubs, lakes or rivers.
- Avoid consuming water from the tap when traveling to high-risk destinations.
- Clean and disinfect all tools, supplies and food prep surfaces.
- Clean and peel fresh vegetables and fruits before eating.
Even with these preventive measures, you can still find yourself infected. The accompanying resource lists waterborne illnesses that are some of the most common in the U.S. If you exhibit any of these symptoms and believe that you have caught one of these illnesses, contact your physician right away so you can begin treatment as soon as possible.