Waterborne illnesses are caused by pathogens, including bacteria, viruses and parasites that are spread through water. Exposure to contaminated water may occur from drinking or household water or from recreational water. Symptoms of waterborne illness from ingested pathogens include diarrhea, fever, nausea and vomiting.
Common bacterial pathogens include Legionella, Campylobacter, E. Coli, Shigella, Salmonella, Pseudomonas, and Vibrio. Viral pathogens include Norovirus, and Hepatitis A. Parasites, like Cryptosporidium and Giardia, can also cause illness.
There are three main ways that people can become sick with waterborne illnesses. Many of these pathogens are spread through ingestion, or by eating or drinking contaminated food or beverages. Illnesses can also be spread from person to person or through contact with contaminated animals or the environment. Inhaling aerosolized droplets of contaminated water from fountains, misters, or showers, may also cause illness.
For more information about waterborne illness, symptoms and pathogens please visit the CDC’s Waterborne Disease Prevention website.