Skip to main content

4 Waterborne Illnesses Serious Enough to File Environmental Claims

Posted by attorney Edward Lake

Waterborne illnesses oftentimes yield environmental claims because such illnesses are usually a product of the environment that sickens the victim. One of the primary areas in which this can occur is through a water supply.

Waterborne Illnesses: Top Four Perpetrators

The top four perpetrators of waterborne illnesses are:

  • cholera;
  • botulism;
  • hepatitis A; and
  • cryptosporidiosis.

Cholera is first on the list of perpetrators, and can cause watery diarrhea, leg cramps and vomiting. As a result, those affected could become severely dehydrated, possibly causing the person to go into shock. In some cases, there are either no symptoms or the symptoms are mild.

Cholera occurs when the bacteria Vibrio cholerae is found in the intestines. Those most at risk of facing life-threatening illness are infants and children. However, without receiving proper treatment, anyone who has been exposed could become severely sick.

Treatment may include antibiotics and fluids. In some cases, the person may need to be rehydrated through an IV. Cholera has long been a pandemic in third-world countries and Long Island residents may not even consider it a problem. Because this illness is unlikely to occur in Long Island, environmental claims should be filed after suffering from cholera.

Another surprising perpetrator of waterborne illnesses is botulism. Although rare, botulism is a very serious toxin. Symptoms of botulism include dry mouth, vision problems (blurred or double), muscle weakness, slurred speech and difficulty with swallowing. If not properly treated, paralysis of the muscles can occur, which can impact the arms, legs and other parts of the body.

If botulism results in respiratory failure, the patient may need assistance with breathing through a ventilator. An antitoxin is also given, which prevents botulism from spreading in the blood.

In severe cases, a person can lose his or her life. Even if the patient lives, the recovery could be very long. There may be months or even years of dealing with the repercussions of breathing problems and fatigue caused by botulism.

Hepatitis A is the third perpetrator found in contaminated water. Although sometimes the afflicted can heal on his or her own, in other cases it may affect the liver, a very serious event indeed.

Symptoms of hepatitis A include fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, fever and sore muscles. It may be treated with rest and water to prevent dehydration. When there are concerns with the liver being damaged, the person may need to be hospitalized.

Cryptosporidiosis is the last of the four perpetrators of waterborne disease. It is probably one of the most common types of water-related illnesses stemming from a parasite in the U.S. Cryptosporidiosis is generally linked to drinking water or recreational water, such as in swimming pools.

Symptoms may include diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, weight loss, dehydration, nausea and vomiting, and can last for several days or even weeks.

Medication may be prescribed, along with ensuring that the patient stays hydrated. In mild cases, no form of treatment is usually necessary. Those with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of complications.

Seeking Legal Counsel after Getting Sick from Waterborne Illnesses

For help in learning about legal options that may be available when sickened by a waterborne illness, it might be a good idea to seek legal counsel. The ability to receive compensation will depend on a couple of things.

First is establishing that the illness was caused by someone’s negligence. This is determined by the source of the contamination. For instance, sickness could stem from unsanitary conditions in a restaurant or a city’s water system.

The second factor in being able to receive compensation is linking the cause to the serious injuries suffered as a result of being sick. At Gacovino, Lake & Associates, the Long Island, New York, personal injury lawyers are well-versed in environmental claims and are available to help those with waterborne illnesses by proving fault.

Author of this guide:

Was this guide helpful?

Get Avvo’s 3-part personal injury email series

A roundup of the best tips and legal advice.

Recommended articles about Personal injury

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer