We live in an age of advanced technology. Sadly, however, water contamination remains a significant problem around the world despite our advancements. Even in the richest nations on Earth, infrastructure issues can lead to contaminated drinking water supplies that could cause serious illnesses. Viruses, bacteria and parasites all can find their way into rivers, lakes and streams that in turn feed into the sources on which we depend to nourish us.
This is why it is so important to follow best practices and invest in treatment processes that help ensure everyone has the safest resources every time we turn on the faucet. Failing to watch for these contaminants can bring on illness and discomfort at best and life-threatening conditions at worst.
For example, rain can wash fecal matter from farm fields into nearby rivers or streams. This causes them to become infected with E. coli, a bacteria that can cause symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. Air conditioners or sprinkler systems that are not properly maintained can become breeding grounds for Legionella. When carried by mist and droplets, this bacteria type can enter the respiratory system and lead to Legionnaires’ disease. This infection is characterized by shortness of breath and severe coughing.
See the accompanying guide for more information about the dangers that might be lurking in your pipes.
Microscopic invaders such as bacteria and parasites may be hiding in your water supply. Read on to learn more about some of the most prevalent of these dangers.
Legionella bacteria is responsible for Legionnaires’ disease, a flu-like illness that primarily affects the lungs. Coughing and shortness of breath are the chief symptoms, but other flu-like ailments such as vomiting and muscle aches are also common. The main way in which people are infected with Legionella is through breathing contaminated water droplets.
This bacteria type is easily transmittable, and can even spread from animals to people. In particular, pet turtles, lizards and snakes can carry it and transmit it to their owners. Once infected, people might experience severe gastrointestinal symptoms. These can include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps.
A common form of bacteria found in the digestive systems of living organisms, certain strains can cause illnesses when introduced into drinking water supplies. This is often caused by insufficient treatment of wastewater or being carried into freshwater by storm runoff. Consuming water contaminated with E. coli can lead to severe abdominal cramping, vomiting and diarrhea.
This highly contagious pathogen can cause a wide range of illnesses, from pneumonia to urinary tract infection to sepsis. It is responsible for more than 50,000 documented infections in the United States every year. This is due to the fact that it is extremely common and can be found in many plumbing systems and moist environments.
This is a parasite that people can pick up by drinking unclean water. It is highly contagious and can be spread even when the carrier exhibits no outward signs of infection. If someone shows symptoms of being infected, though, he or she may experience diarrhea, stomach cramps and a low fever.