Top 5 Water Related Diseases in India

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Mar 26, 2015

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Quick Bites

  • Diarrhea is the most prevalent water disease in India.
  • Thousands of people in India fall prey of cholera.
  • Malaria is spread by mosquitoes which thrive on water bodies.
  • Filariasis affects people who live near unsanitary water bodies.

water related problam in IndiaWater related diseases are the most common cause of deaths. The paucity of clean water for domestic use has led to the increase in the number of deaths in both the urban and rural parts of developing economies. And India is no different. Deaths due to water related diseases in India are in the range of nearly 80 percent. Here is a list of the 5 most deadly water related diseases that occur in India.

Water Diseases in India


  • Diarrhoea remains the most prevalent water related disease in India. It mostly affects children under the age of 5and often leads to death.
  • Diarrhoeal infection is spread through food and drinking water that has been contaminated.
  • A diarrhoeal attack can last up to 2 weeks and leave the person completely dehydrated.
  • Symptoms of diarrhoea include, severe dizziness, loss of consciousness, dehydration and pale skin, little or no urination and in some case bloody stool.
  • Diarrhoea can spread through multiple viruses that is found in contaminated water. The poorer sections of the society come in daily contact with this water and that is the why the rate of diarrhoea is highest amongst them.


  • Thousands of people fall prey to cholera every year in India.
  • Cholera is a water related disease, and is diarrhoeal in nature.
  • It can kill in hours if left unattended.
  • Cholera strikes when one ingests water that is infested with the Vibrio Cholerae bacterium.
  • Symptoms of cholera include watery bowels and fever in certain cases.
  • Cholera can happen to both children and adults.
  • In India cholera related deaths are most common in places with shortage of good quality water. In 2010, nearly 140 people died of cholera in Odisha (formerly known as Orissa). 

Water Diseases in India


  • Malaria or Malarial fever is spread by the Plasmodium parasite mosquito that breeds in water bodies like lakes and paddy fish. Stagnant water is another favourite breeding ground for these deadly parasites.
  • Malaria mostly kills children in India, as adults slowly form some sort of immunity against the parasite, over the years.
  • Malarial fever symptoms include fevers, chills, headaches and vomiting. Sometimes these symptoms are also coupled with anaemia.
  • A malarial infection shows only after a week has passed. Therefore, treating it immediately is a necessity.

Japanese Encephalitis

  • Japanese encephalitis is a water related disease that is caused by the Culex Tritaeniorhynchus and Culex Vishnui type of mosquitoes.
  • These mosquitoes’ favourite breeding ground is water flooded paddy fields. Therefore, Japanese encephalitis is majorly found in the agricultural regions of India.
  • The Japanese encephalitis virus attacks children the most and in some cases this water related disease can lead to death.
  • The symptoms of Japanese encephalitis include fever, vomiting, headaches and in acute cases, coma, seizures and finally death.
  • The vaccine for Japanese encephalitis is very expensive therefore most of the economically backward families in India cannot afford it.


  • Filariasis is a parasitic disease and affects people who live near unsanitary water bodies or sewages.
  • Filariasis is spread by mosquitoes that breeds in fresh and stagnant water bodies and is the host of the filarial nematode worm. This worm affects humans and leads to elephantitis.
  • Filariasis can lead to blindness, and rapid skin pigmentation and the filarial worms can affects various parts of the body.
  • Filariasis is a concern for the rural population in India whose major occupation is agriculture.
  • Although Filariasis can be treated and prevented with oral medicines, lack of medicines in rural India leads to severe disfiguration in many cases.

Water related diseases plague many Indians. The availability of fresh and good quality drinking water to all Indians remains a concern.

Image courtesy: Getty Images

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