Dangers of drinking water containing E. coli and giardia

The dangers of drinking water containing E. coli, Cryptosporidium and Giardia are discussed in this article. The risks associated with these organisms are presented, along with the methods used to control them.

Waterborne diseases are a major health problem throughout the world. They can be caused by many different types of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and helminths (worms). Importantly, waterborne disease is usually transmitted through contaminated food or beverages, but it may also occur when people drink water that has been contaminated directly from rivers, lakes, streams, or other sources. Many waterborne diseases have become more common as our population increases and we use more water for personal hygiene. In addition, some waterborne diseases are becoming resistant to antibiotics. This makes treating people who have contracted such infections difficult.

The most common waterborne diseases include:

  1. Water-born diarrhoea, which is caused by bacteria or viruses.
  2. Fever and vomiting, which are usually due to a virus.
  3. Skin rashes, which may be allergic reactions to chemicals in the water.
  4. Cholera is an acute infection of the small intestine that can cause severe dehydration and death if not treated quickly. It is spread through contaminated food.
  5. Swallowing contaminated water while swimming can lead to gastroenteritis, which causes nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea.

What is E.coli?

E.coli is a bacterium found in the intestines of humans and animals. Most strains of E. coli do not cause illness; however, certain strains of E. coli can cause serious illnesses in both adults and children. These illnesses range from mild stomach flu to life threatening conditions like haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and kidney failure. HUS occurs when the body’s immune system attacks red blood cells, causing them to clump together and form a clot inside the kidneys. If left untreated, this condition can result in permanent damage to the kidneys.

The bacteria are usually found both in surface water, streams and soil. They can be found in many places, including on plants and animals. The bacteria that cause food poisoning usually come from animal faeces or manure.

Most E. coli enter the human body through the digestive tract. When someone ingests contaminated food or drinks, the germs travel through the intestinal wall and enter the bloodstream. Once they reach the bloodstream, the germs move around the body until they find their way back to the intestines. From there, they multiply and begin producing toxins that cause symptoms.

The Giardia Parasite

Giardiasis is a parasitic infection of the intestines that is often accompanied by stomach pains, fatigue, weight loss, and sometimes diarrhea. Giardiasis is caused by the parasite Giardia lamblia. The Giardia parasite is found in both fresh and saltwater. People infected with Giardia lamblia excrete the organism in their faeces. If the faeces come into contact with the hands of someone else, they can then contaminate food or drinks. Importantly, the disease can be treated with antibiotics, but it can also cause long-term health problems if not caught early enough.

The symptoms of Giardiasis are usually mild, but they may include:

  • Abdominal pain or cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting7

How common is Giarda?

Giardiasis is one of the most prevalent parasitic infections in people and animals worldwide. An infection occurs when people ingest faecal material from animals or humans who are sick. Importantly, Giardia can live in both fresh and saltwater. Most cases are seen during the summer months, with possible outbreaks of Giardiasis occurring at any time of the year.

The Cryptosporidium Parasite

Cryptosporidiosis is another intestinal infection caused by the parasite Cryptosporidium.

Cryptosporidium (Crypto) is a protozoan parasite that causes diarrhea in humans and animals. In the United States, Crypto infection has been reported in calves, lambs, pigs, dogs, cats, and horses. The pathogen can be transmitted by ingestion of contaminated water or food; person-to-person contact; faecal-oral route; or direct transmission from an infected animal.

Crypto is commonly found in fresh and saltwater. It can survive for several days outside of its host. However, it cannot survive longer than 2 weeks without a host. In addition, the parasite can only infect warm-blooded hosts. This means that it does not affect cold-blooded organisms such as reptiles and amphibians.

The real issue with cryptosporidium is that there is no vaccine available for this disease. There are many different types of cryptosporidium, so it is important to know what type you have before treatment begins. Treatment options for cryptosporidium vary depending on the type of infection. For example, some people will need to take medication for several weeks, while others will only need to take medicine for a few days.

How to Avoid E. Coli, Cryptosporidium or Giardia Ingestion

It is important for you to know how to prevent yourself from getting sick from eating food or water contaminated with E. coli, Cryptosporidium or Giardia. You should always wash your hands before preparing food and after using the bathroom. Also, make sure that you drink only clean water.

Infectious gastroenteritis (‘gastro’) involving E. coli and giardia usually occurs as a result of eating or drinking. For example, it can be quite common when travelling where raw fruit or vegetables are consumed, or the food is washed in contaminated water.

However, if that isn’t possible, or you’re travelling to an area or country with questionable drinking water, you may like to invest in a LifeStraw water filter bottle. This will remove any harmful bacteria from your water supply. The LifeStraw microfilters remove 99.999999% of bacteria (including E.coli, Salmonella), 99.999% of parasites (including Giardia and Cryptosporidium), 99.999% of microplastics, as well as dirt, sand and cloudiness. Those products in the range incorporating carbon filters will also remove chlorine, organic chemical matter and odours for improved taste.

LifeStraw products range from individual drinking straws and bottles through to the Mission model that filters up to 12 litres per hour, making it perfect for families or groups, while camping or travelling.


In conclusion, if you’re going to drink water, make sure it comes from a reliable source . If that’s not possible due to location issues, you can pre-arm yourself with a LifeStraw water bottle, which will protect you from Giardia, Cryptosporidium and E.coli when drinking from an unknown water source.

What sort of protection will you take when drinking water from an unknown source in the future?

  1. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/e-coli-infection
  2. http://conditions.health.qld.gov.au/HealthCondition/condition/14/33/666/Escherichia-coli-E.-coli-detections-in-drinking-water
  3. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/emergencies-floods#preventing-illness-from-contaminated-water
  4. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/giardiasis
  5. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/gastroenteritis
  6. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  7. https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/giardia/illness.html



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