Waterborne Illnesses

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Waterborne illnesses are caused by water that is contaminated by germs such as viruses, bacteria or parasites.

Sources of Waterborne Infection

Contaminated water can be found in a wide variety of water sources that people encounter:

  • Well water
  • Natural sources such as lakes, rivers, oceans and swamps
  • Recreational water sources such as interactive fountains, splash pads, swimming pools, hot tubs, water parks and water play areas.
  • Municipal water supplies that supply homes and businesses can become contaminated if their water treatment systems are inadequate, or when contamination can enter the water system through broken supply pipes, loss of water pressure, or other reasons.

How You Can Be Infected

People and animals can become infected by:

  • Swallowing contaminated water.
  • Consuming food that has come into contact with contaminated water.
  • Inhaling droplets of contaminated water in the air (aerosolized water).
  • Skin contact with contaminated water, especially if your have a sore or wound.


Diarrhea and vomiting are the most commonly reported symptoms of waterborne illness. Symptoms can also include wound infections and eye, ear, and respiratory problems.

Types of Waterborne Illnesses

Learn More

Boil-Water Advisories

Last reviewed on Feb 22, 2024 request edits
Mississippi State Department of Health 570 East Woodrow Wilson Dr Jackson, MS 39216 866‑HLTHY4U Contact and information

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