8 Most Common Water-Borne Diseases in India – Prevention is Better than Cure

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Water is the essence of life and you need water to survive. However, drinking water without sterilizing it could lead to serious infections which potentially could be fatal. The water you drink should be safe and not contaminated.

The WHO report says that water-borne diseases can be the most deadly of killers. Eliminating them is the key to good health. Let us look at some of the diseases that are transmitted through unsafe drinking water.

You can contact diseases not only by mere drinking of unsafe water but also by coming in contact with contaminated water. Following are the diseases transmitted through unsafe drinking water.

1.  Cholera

Cholera is a very common disease occurring in places with poor sanitation facilities. One of the most common water-borne diseases in India, cholera is also found in Africa, Asia, South and Central America, and Mexico. This makes it one of the most common diseases as well.

Symptoms: The patient experiences rapid dehydration due to vomiting and diarrhea. Other symptoms include abdominal cramps and nausea.

Prevention: Maintaining hygiene is the best way to get rid of cholera. This is principally why you do not have much incidence of cholera in the European continent and Australia. Secondly, ensuring that there is no contamination of drinking water sources by human waste is important for preventing cholera.

2.  Dysentery

Dysentery occurs because of intestinal infections. There are two types of dysentery, amoebic and bacillary dysentery based on the source of infection.

Symptoms: The symptoms of both these types of dysentery are the same. The patient experiences nausea, fever, and severe bouts of diarrhea.

Prevention: Improving sanitation facilities and ensuring there is no contamination of drinking water or food from human waste/other bacteria is the best way to prevent dysentery. One should have adequate quantities of pure drinking water/electrolytes to make up for the loss of water due to diarrhea.

3.  Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis is a disease of the intestinal lining caused due to consumption of water contaminated by viruses, bacteria, or parasites. This disease is prevalent all over the world, especially the third world countries.

Symptoms: The most common symptoms of gastroenteritis are diarrhea, vomiting and fever accompanied by headache and chills.

Prevention: Dehydration is the main effect of this disease. Hence, one should ensure constant supply of pure drinking water. Improving sanitation facilities is an important aspect of preventing the onset and spread of gastroenteritis.

4.  Hepatitis E

Hepatitis E, a type of jaundice, is caused by consuming contaminated drinking water. This is also one of the most widespread infections with over 20 million cases being reported each year all over the world. It is estimated that around 57,000 people die of this disease annually.

Hepatitis E is usually found in South and East Asian countries as well as in the northern part of the African continent.

Symptoms: This is a liver infection. The principal symptoms of this disease are jaundice, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting. There have been instances of acute liver failure leading to death.

Prevention: The only way to prevent this disease is to ensure supply of pure water to drink. Improving sanitation is necessary to prevent contamination.

5.  Giardiasis

The main cause of Giardiasis is a parasitic intestinal infection. Drinking contaminated water is the principal reason behind this disease. This disease does not know any borders as it is prevalent all over the world.

Symptoms: This is a unique infection where you might not develop signs of Giardiasis, but still prove instrumental in spreading the disease to others through your stools. The symptoms usually do not emanate immediately. It can take a week or two to manifest. The patient experiences fatigue followed by abdominal cramps and bloating. Diarrhea is the principal symptom of this disease. You also experience nausea accompanied by weight loss. Usually, the symptoms last for a period of two to four weeks.

Prevention: The only way to prevent the onset of the disease is to ensure the supply of clean and pure drinking water along with improvement in sanitation services.

6.  Typhoid Fever

Contaminated water is the prime cause of this infection. You can find this disease in almost any part of the world. Wherever there is any contamination of drinking water, you can find instances of typhoid fever.

Symptoms: Fever accompanies by abdominal pain and diarrhea is the main symptom of this disease. There are instances of patients developing skin rashes as well.

Prevention: Addressing the cause of the disease is the main way to prevent the spread of the disease. You can prevent typhoid fever by ensuring that you have clean and pure water for consumption.

7.  Cryptosporidium Enteritis

People with compromised immune systems such as children and AIDS patients are more prone to contact this parasitic intestinal disease, Cryptosporidium enteritis. This disease is spread throughout the world wherever you have contaminated water and people satisfying the above conditions.

Symptoms: Abdominal cramping along with nausea and diarrhea is the main symptom of this disease. You can also observe weight loss and malnutrition in patients suffering from this ailment.

Prevention: Providing clean and pure water to everyone, especially those with weaker immunity levels is a sure way of preventing this disease.

8.  Cyclosporiasis

Drinking contaminated water is the principal cause of Cyclosporiasis. This is an intestinal parasitic disease prevalent in the tropical and sub-tropical regions.

Symptoms: You can see the common symptoms of water-borne diseases in Cyclosporiasis as well. They include weight loss, diarrhea, headache, fever, nausea, and vomiting. This causes severe dehydration.

Prevention: The need of the hour is to improve sanitation facilities and ensure supply of pure water for drinking.


We have seen eight common diseases caused due to contamination of drinking water sources. There are other diseases as well such as polio, guinea worm, etc. We have not discussed these diseases because they are virtually at the doorstep of eradication. You can find cases of polio in some developing and underdeveloped countries, but guinea worm is almost completely eradicated.

The only way to prevent the occurrence of water-borne diseases is to improve sanitation facilities and ensure supply of pure water for drinking purposes. It is entirely in our hands to prevent such diseases.