World Water Day: 3 most common waterborne diseases you need to be aware of

This World Water Day, we discuss the causes, symptoms and preventive measures of cholera, malaria and typhoid, the three waterborne diseases that plague India.
World Water Day is observed on March 22 every year.(Images: Shutterstock)
World Water Day is observed on March 22 every year.(Images: Shutterstock)
Updated on Mar 22, 2017 12:59 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

Observed on March 22 every year, World Water Day aims to tackle the global water crisis. First held in 1993, the day focuses on one aspect of fresh water every year, the theme for 2017 being wastewater.

Today, about 1.8 billion people across the world drink contaminated water and are therefore at great risk of being infected with water-borne diseases. Over 77 million Indians lack access to safe drinking water, according to, an international NGO that aims to provide access to safe water and sanitation to all.

Though unclean water is the source of several diseases, cholera, malaria and typhoid are the most common in India. Here we discuss their symptoms and preventive measures so that you know what to do the next time you’re infected.


Cause: Bacterium vibrio cholerae, commonly found in food or water contaminated with faeces or in an infected person.

Symptoms: Acute diarrhoea and mild to severe dehydration.

Preventive measures:

* Drink clean water—which is either boiled, has been chemically disinfected or is bottled.

* Avoid eating—from roadside vendors, unpeeled fruits and vegetables, unpasteurized milk and milk products, and raw or undercooked meat and shellfish.

* Oral rehydration solution, oral cholera vaccines

* Safe sanitation


Cause: Plasmodium parasites, transmitted through the bites of an infected female Anopheles mosquito. Since Malaria is transmitted by blood, it can also be transmitted through an organ transplant, blood transfusion and the use of an infected needle.

Symptoms: Fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, moderate to severe chills, profuse sweating, diarrhoea, anaemia, muscle pain, bloody stools.

Preventive measures: There is no vaccine yet to prevent malaria but sleeping under a mosquito net, wearing full clothes covering your skin, using bug/mosquito sprays containing DEET and anti-malarial medicines can help.


Cause: Bacterium Salmonella Typhi, usually found in contaminated food or water.

Symptoms: Prolonged fever, headache, nausea, loss of appetite, constipation, diarrhoea.

Preventive measures:

* Use clean water for drinking and other domestic purposes such as cooking and washing.

* Make sure you eat hot food that’s been hygienically made and appropriately processed. Do not eat raw food and shellfish.

* Wash hands with soap before preparing and eating food.

* Use clean and hygienic toilet facilities.

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