Do you trust the water that flows from your pipes? Yes, your local plant treats the water before sending it to your house, but that doesn’t make it safe. Contaminants and pathogens taint water every single day, and anyone can fall prey to dangerous water-related diseases.
But what are the most common water-related diseases in Arizona? Are they a serious concern, or can you afford to ignore them?
Are Water-Related Diseases Dangerous?
Waterborne diseases are not as rare as people assume. A 1998 report blamed gastrointestinal illness in 30 million Americans on contaminated water. The EPA estimated the cost of waterborne ailments to be as high as $22 billion at the time.
This doesn’t include the thousands of people that die annually because of illnesses they contracted from drinking water. Water-related illnesses are a significant threat whose severity cannot be overstated.
Where Do Water Contaminants Come From?
You can find dangerous microorganisms everywhere, from the soil to the air and even fruits and vegetables. Some of those microorganisms are harmless. Others cause serious illnesses.
Diseases people contract when they drink contaminated water are called ‘Waterborne Diseases.’ They have numerous sources, including:
Human and animal waste accounts for a significant portion of the viruses and protozoa in water. The waste a healthy human being excretes on any given day has billions of microbes that can survive and thrive in water.
Modern cities tend to prioritize water hygiene above all else. But your service providers cannot account for every natural flow that accidentally interacts with contaminated water.
In some cases, flooding and broken sewage pipes can bring the waste matter to clean water bodies, infecting the flow of water your service provider supplies to your home.
Additionally, many wild animals drink from natural water bodies, introducing fecal matter in the process
Farms taint natural water bodies all the time. They use rivers and streams to dispose of animal waste. Agricultural runoff has increased the transmission of pathogens between animals and humans.
People trust water treatment plants in Arizona to keep them safe from contaminants. And treatment processes can combat diseases like salmonella and dysentery by eliminating bacteria and viruses. Unfortunately, they cannot protect against protozoa parasites because they resist conventional treatment tools and techniques.
Catastrophic occurrences like tsunamis and earthquakes can introduce pathogens to water by drastically transforming the ecosystem, especially when they cause sewage treatment plants to overflow.
What Are Water-Related Diseases Found in Arizona?
Waterborne diseases are wide-ranging. Some of the most prominent include diarrhea, typhoid, and cholera. But if you live in Arizona, cholera is the least of your worries. You are more likely to encounter the following:
Naegleria fowleri is an amoeboflagellate that can invade your body if tainted water enters your nose. This can easily happen if you tip your head back in a shower.
The result is brain swelling and, inevitably, death. Five people in Arizona died from this ailment in 2001. You can also fall afoul of the disease by swimming in a contaminated pool.
The next time you hire a water and HVAC expert to repair and maintain your heater, ask them to verify that your water supply isn’t contaminated.
Of the 25,000 cases of legionellosis that the CDC records each year, 4,000 cases lead to death. People with the disease manifest muscle aches, headaches, diarrhea, couching, and fever, to mention but a few. Arizona recorded 21 cases of the illness in 2019.
Technically speaking, you get the bacteria from contaminated water. However, drinking contaminated water won’t give you the disease. You have to inhale a mist or aerosol. Before you rejoice, contaminated aerosolized water is not that difficult to come by.
You can find it in a shower or spa. Any sufficiently agitated body of water will produce a mist that passersby can inhale.
This illness comes from a parasite. Symptoms include gas, nausea, and diarrhea. You will see them within three weeks of infection, and it usually takes several weeks to make a full recovery. Arizona recorded 57 cases of the disease in 2019.
This parasitic protozoan pathogen causes cryptosporidiosis, which doctors associate with gastric symptoms. People have contracted the illness from hospitals, day-care centers, and public pools. The pathogen’s starting point is human and animal waste.
You can get the disease by eating contaminated food and ingesting tainted water.
This waterborne ailment causes fever, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. Of the 117 cases that Arizona recorded in 2019, some did not show symptoms.
People associate mycobacterium with respiratory illnesses like tuberculosis. But non tuberculosis mycobacteria has increased in prominence over the years. No one knows why these infections do not spread through contact, and neither can they identify the factors causing them to become more prevalent.
People expect to contract salmonella from tainted food, but you can also get it from contaminated water. Arizona recorded 317 cases of the disease in 2019.
Adenoviral infections include pink eye, pneumonia, and the common cold. You can get these infections from drinking contaminated water or touching contaminated surfaces.
Also called viral gastroenteritis, calicivirus causes the stomach flu. But you don’t always contract the disease from contaminated water. Other sources of infection include food and sick people. People with the stomach flu show symptoms such as fever and stomach cramps.
Waterborne diseases are no joke. They infect thousands of people in Arizona every year, and some of those people will die. Because you get waterborne diseases by ingesting contaminated water, it isn’t enough to boil water before you consume it.
You can introduce pathogens to your body by allowing water from a shower to enter your nose or by using tainted tap water for cooking your food. For that reason, you should consider adding a filtration system to your house.
A filtration system cannot protect you from every single disease you encounter. But it will defend against the majority of pathogens.