A Guide to Parasites in Drinking Water and How to Avoid Them

Water-borne parasites are a serious environmental health concern that may have a devastating impact on human health. Parasites that reside in untreated water may contaminate lakes, rivers, and drinking water sources. While some associate water-borne disease with third-world countries, parasitic illnesses such as the 1993 Milwaukee cryptosporidiosis outbreak show that developed countries are not immune to contamination. Avoiding contact with contaminated swimming and bathing sources, as well as having access to purified drinking water, are the only safe methods available for preventing water-borne, parasitic infection. Those who suffer from parasitic infection caused by drinking water or other water sources should seek the advice of their health care provider.

The number of parasites that infest drinking water is vast. Left untreated, water may be a source of giardia, toxoplasmosis, malaria, dysentery, polio, cholera, cryptosporidiosis, and rare parasites and amoebas. Each parasite affects the body differently; however, in most cases, gastrointestinal distress is present. Symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and fever often occur when a water-borne, parasitic infection occurs. While many will suffer through a parasitic infection and derive benefits from a round of antibiotics, there are segments of the population who are extremely vulnerable to these infections. For infants, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems, parasitic infections may be fatal. Understanding how parasites travel through the environment and survive in water is paramount for finding suitable treatment methods for preventing contamination. Science shows that the most effective way to prevent water-borne parasitic outbreaks is through providing safe, clean drinking water.

Everyone must take great care to avoid parasitic exposure. As rivers and lakes are also a source of contamination, people should avoid swimming in contaminated waters and make certain not to drink water from rivers or lakes. One area where people may take proactive steps to avoid infection is by ensuring clean drinking water. Tap water is not necessarily free from pathogens, and each state has different practices used to treat drinking water. Even water that comes from an automatic ice maker or refrigerator water dispenser originates from tap water and is a potential source of parasites. Using water filtration systems, boiling water in times of an emergency, and using water purification systems designed for home and business use will help prevent the spread of disease and outbreaks. Water quality problems are not limited to underdeveloped countries; they affect urbanized areas as well. Speak with a representative for your local water department if you have questions regarding the quality of your drinking water. If you develop symptoms associated with a water-borne parasitic infection, do not delay treatment. Contact your health care provider immediately. Those treating a water-borne parasitic infection at home should beware of dehydration that occurs due to diarrhea. They should drink plenty of purified water, rest often, and remain on guard for any possible complications that may arise. A health care provider will most likely prescribe a course of antibiotics. Those who experience secondary ailments or complications or are not progressing in their recovery may require hospitalization.

Parasitic sources in water supplies vary and may include human activity as well as agricultural and animal presence. Society depends upon clean drinking water for survival; however, many parasites can slip through treatment systems and contaminate tap water. Always heed the warnings and recommendations of your city and state water department and follow any alerts activated. Many find, however, that having additional tools for fighting parasitic infections provides the best level of protection. Water filtration and purification systems are a trusted method for ensuring safe water in the home or office. Reducing the transmission of water-borne parasites and infections is not a job left solely to government leaders; every citizen can play a part. Safe hygiene practices, frequent hand-washing, avoiding contaminated water sources, and ensuring you and your family have access to purified water all contribute to public health and safety. Water plays an important role in human life. From drinking water for survival and bathing to recreational purposes, humans are exposed to this essential, life-giving liquid on a daily basis. When contaminated, water becomes the source of potentially serious harm and illness. Preventing water-borne disease and infection is a vital component to enjoying a healthy life.

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