1. Waterborne diseases due to flooding and stagnant water

A. Malaria

Malaria is a serious disease caused by a parasite carried by the female Anopheles mosquito. Humans are infected when bitten by the mosquitoes and each year about 1 million children die from it. Covering water tanks, clearing bushes and draining stagnant water pools help reduce mosquito-breeding places and thus reduce cases of malaria. For more information on malaria visit


Malaria is preventable. Simple known methods that have been learnt over the years include keeping the compound within dwelling places clean, draining puddles and stagnant waters, or pouring oil over puddles that would not drain to disrupt mosquito-breeding places, and clearing bushes. When affordable, it is important to sleeping under treated mosquito nets, applying mosquito repellent jellies use insect sprays and mosquito coils to reduce chances of mosquito bites. Further, building door and window screens to prevent mosquitoes and other bugs from coming into the house even when windows and doors are opened.

B. Bilharzia

This disease, also known as Schistosomiasis, is caused by schistosomes’ parasitic worms, which inhabit human hosts. They penetrate the skin of people swimming, bathing or washing in contaminated water, thus causing infection and can eventually damage the liver, intestines, lungs and bladder. It affects over 200 million people worldwide; however, studies have found that adequate water supply and sanitation could reduce infection rates by up to 77 per cent (UNICEF). For more information on bilhazia visit,,

For the prevention of bilharzia, people should avoid wading through, swimming in, or bathing with water that is unsafe.

2. Waterborne diseases due to the intake of unsafe water

A. Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea is a symptom of disease that may be caused by viruses, bacteria and protozoans. Diarrhoea dehydrates a person of both water and electrolytes. Prolonged diarrhoea may lead to death. Most of the water related diseases manifest themselves through diarrhoea. For more information on diarrhoea, visit

B. Cholera

This bacterial infection affects the intestinal tract. Cholera is one of the deadliest illnesses known to man. A healthy person may die from cholera within 2-3 hours if no treatment is provided. It is dreadful to note that the disease advances from the first liquid stool to shock in 4-12 hours, with subsequent death in 18 hours to several days. For more information visit

C. Intestinal worms (Helminthes)

Intestinal parasitic worms infest humans through contact with soil that has been contaminated with human feces from an infected person, or by eating contaminated food. About 10 per cent of people in the developing world get infected each year. Severe cases of infestation lead to malnutrition, anaemia or/and retarded growth. Children are particularly susceptible. According to UNICEF, “about 400 million school-age children are infected by roundworm, whipworm and/or hookworm.”

D. Fluorosis

Fluorosis, a bone disease related to the presence of high concentrations of fluoride occurring naturally in groundwater, can be detrimental to teeth and the bones. In some parts of the developing world where water sources have a high concentration of fluorine, people usually have browning or black teeth that chip away with time.

E. Guinea worm disease

People contract this disease when they drinking water contaminated with Dracunculus, a larva that causes debilitating ulcers. However, the spread of the disease is checked and decreasing, there were still about 50,000 cases reported in Africa in the year 2002.


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F. Dysentery

Dysentery is an illness that for a long time has been called the bloody flux. It involves the passing of severe bloody stool. It is caused by eating food that is contaminated by the disease causing pathogens that inflame the intestines.

G. Typhoid

Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection caused by ingesting contaminated food or water. Symptoms are characterized by headaches, nausea and loss of appetite. About 12 million people are affected by typhoid every year.

H. Arsenicosis

Arsenicosis is a disease that comes about because of drinking water containing high levels of arsenic over a long period. A chronic illness that affects the skin pigmentation by discoloring the skin and forming hard patches, causing skin cancer, cancer of the kidney, bladder and the lung. It can also lead to gangrene. The World Health Organization recommends a limit of 0.01 mg/L of arsenic in drinking water.

I. Dengue fever

Dengue fever is contracted from a mosquito known as Aegypti. This mosquito bites during the day and feeds mostly on human blood. Dengue is a viral disease and thus, antibiotics cannot cure it. Its symptoms include a blushing rash and excruciating pain in the bones. This disease is also known as the break bone fever.


Whereas HIV/AIDS is not a water related diseases, its emphasis in this issue because it is prone to kill due to opportunistic infections that are generally related to using unsafe water. Since unclean water causes symptoms that relate to diarrhoea, upset stomach, and vomiting, a person who is infected can easily get opportunistic diseases like Listeria and salmonella infections among many others.

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