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What diseases can be transported by water?

An overview of the most common water-borne diseases

Water-borne diseases are diseases that are spread by contaminated drinking water. This contamination can occur by humans and animal feces that contain pathogenic microorganisms, but also by heavy industry plants. 


The image of water-related health problems has become increasingly detailed over the past decades, with the advent of new water-related infectious diseases, and the re-emergence of established diseases. Data are available for certain water- and sanitation-related diseases (including salmonellosis and cholera), but the research remains to be done for others such as malaria, schistosomiasis, and most recently COVID-19.

The strain of many classes of diseases can be linked only partially to the water determinants. Particularly where water plays an important role in disease ecology, the relative significance of aquatic elements of the local environment may be challenging to define.

The most common water-borne diseases are:

  • Cholera
  • Dengue
  • Diarrhea
  • Fluorosis
  • Lead Poisoning
  • Legionellosis
  • Malaria
  • Malnutrition
  • Polio
  • Typhoid