You turn on the tap and out comes water. What could be simpler? But have you ever stopped to think about where that water came from, and all of the things that it might contain?
One thing you definitely don’t want to get from your drinking water is a parasitic infection. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some common parasites that can be found in tap water, how to treat and monitor your water safety, and what to do if you think you’ve consumed contaminated water.
Common Waterborne Parasites
The CDC estimates that every year, there are roughly 19 million cases of parasitic infections in the United States alone. Two of the most common parasites that may be lurking in your tap water are known as Giardia and Cryptosporidia.
This parasite is typically found in surface water, like lakes and streams. It can also be found in poorly-maintained swimming pools and in contaminated drinking water. Giardia is usually spread through contact with contaminated food or water. It can also be transmitted via contact with an infected animal, such as a dog or cat.
This tiny organism can cause severe gastrointestinal distress, including diarrhea, cramping, bloating, and nausea. Symptoms typically begin within one to two weeks of exposure and can last for several weeks. In some cases, Giardia can be treated with antibiotics. However, it’s important to finish the entire course of treatment to make sure the infection is completely eradicated.
Another common waterborne parasite is Cryptosporidium. This microscopic organism can cause severe diarrhea and vomiting, as well as cramping, fever, and weight loss.
Like Giardia, Cryptosporidium is usually spread via food or water that contains the parasite, but can also be transmitted through close contact with an infected person or animal. Also like Giardia, some cases of Cryptosporidia can be treated with antibiotics, so long as you take all of your medication as instructed by a doctor.
How Can You Detect Parasites in Your Tap Water?
There are a few different ways to test for parasites in your water. The most common is to send a sample of your water to a lab for testing.
You can also purchase at-home test kits from many hardware and home improvement stores. These kits will usually test for a variety of different contaminants, including Giardia.
How Can You Treat Water Contaminated with Parasites?
If you suspect that your water is contaminated with parasites, the first thing you should do is contact your local water utility. They will be able to test your water and determine if there is a problem. If parasites are found in your water, the utility will work with you to come up with a treatment plan. This might involve using a whole-home filtration system to remove the contaminants from your water.
Boiling your water may also kill some parasites that might be present. At the very least, boiling water for one minute is typically enough to kill most bacteria and viruses. However, boiling isn’t enough to kill all possible parasites, so ensure that this measure is sufficient for whichever contaminant you may be dealing with. If your utility did not provide a test to identify the potential parasite, consider requesting a free water test from water safety professionals near you.
Water Safety While Traveling
In some parts of the world, water parasites can be more common, due to natural climate or lower standards of water treatment. To avoid becoming sick from waterborne parasites, it’s important to take some basic precautions when traveling in such areas. These include:
- Only drink bottled or boiled water. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes unless you’re certain they’ve been made with safe water.
- Wash your hands often, especially before eating or drinking. Use soap and clean running water whenever possible.
- Avoid swimming in freshwater lakes, rivers, and streams. If you do swim in these bodies of water, shower as soon as possible afterward.
What Should You Do If You’ve Drunk Contaminated Water?
If you suspect that you’ve consumed contaminated water, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible. They will be able to run tests to confirm the presence of Giardia, Cryptosporidia, and other parasites, and prescribe the appropriate treatment.
In some cases, drinking contaminated water can lead to serious health complications. Therefore, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible if you think you’ve consumed contaminated water.
You can also take steps to prevent the spread of parasites like Giardia and Cryptosporidia by washing your hands often and disinfecting surfaces that may have been contaminated.
Ensure Clean, Safe Water with Whole-Home Filtration
Tap water might seem simple, but there’s a lot more going on than meets the eye. Making sure your drinking water is safe is important for protecting your health. By being aware of the potential contaminants in your water, you can take steps to ensure that you and your family are safe from harmful parasites.
One way to protect yourself from waterborne parasites is by ensuring that your home has a whole-home filtration system. These systems remove contaminants from all the water that enters your home, providing you with clean, safe water for drinking, cooking, and bathing. Many water filtration systems remove more parasites than boiling, making them a safer option for your entire family’s health.
The Science of Water
At The Science of Water, we assess and install water filtration systems to meet your unique needs. Using filtration technology backed by NASA and the EPA, our advanced water systems purify your water supply to the highest standard. So you can enjoy safer, clearer, and more delicious water through every tap and appliance in your home.
Don’t wait to find out about contamination when it’s already too late. Proactively protect your household with pure, delicious water that can be relied on. For more information about The Science of Water or to book your free water test, just get in touch with our team today!