Waterborne Illness

Waterborne illness is caused by recreational or drinking water that is contaminated with disease-causing microbes. Waterborne illnesses are also called Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs) as they are often spread when infected persons enter common water sources like rivers, lakes, ponds and pools and spread the organisms. If you have diarrhea, don’t go to the pool or other recreational water sites for at least 1 full week after your diarrheal symptoms have ended.

Common causes of Waterborne Illness:

Amebiasis (Entamoeba histolytica): A parasitic infection that may not present with symptoms or symptoms may range from mild to chronic to fulminant diarrhea and can even present as a hepatic abscess.

Campylobacteriosis (Campylobacter): Bacteria that lives in healthy birds, and raw poultry. One of the most common causes of diarrheal illness in the United States

Cholera: Rare in the United States, this bacteria is mostly associated with contaminated water or food and occasionally from raw or undercooked shellfish. Sever cases can be fatal.

Coccidioidomycosis (Valley Fever): Known to live in the soil, the fungal spores can be inhaled through the air.  Most people don’t get sick, but some higher risk persons will need antifungal medication.

Cryptosporidiosis (Cryptosporidium):  Parasite, common in drinking and recreational water. Cryptosporidiosis is passed through the stool of infected humans and animals.

Giardiasis (Giardia): Parasite that is one of the most common waterborne illnesses in humans and animals. The parasite is passed through the stool of an infected person or animal, and has a protective shell that gives it the ability to live outside the body for an extended period of time.

Shigellosis (Shigella): Bacteria that is present in the stool of infected people for up to two weeks after recovery. Transmitted through

Symptoms of waterborne illnesses are most commonly diarrhea and vomiting, but can also include skin, ear, respiratory and eye problems.

If you have, or know of a suspect or confirmed waterborne illness, please report to the Hays County Epidemiologist. 

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