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Water and Health in general

Facts and Data

Each year, over five million people die from diseases caused by lack of access to clean water. Four billion diarrheal diseases cause over 2.2 million deaths. This is the same number as if 16 jumbo jets would crash a day. 

The most common water-related diseases: diarrhea, roundworms, dragon worms, hook worms, schistosomiasis (trematodes) and trachoma (eye disease). In the last ten years, more people died of diarrhea than the loss of lives in all armed conflicts since the Second World War. 

The relationship between water and disease

Water-related diseases, which have to do with the fact that: 

  • Someone drinks water that contains toxic substances,
    or is contaminated with disease-causing viruses, bacteria or parasites.
  • Someone has skin contact with contaminated fresh or salt water.
  • Someone is infected by host-transfer or animals that live in or near the water.

Pathogens, Diseases and Consequences  




Disease cases / year




Escherichia coli

4 Mrd.

2,2 Mio.



Salmonella typhi

16 Mio.




Vibrio cholera





Polio virus



Dengue virus

Dengue fever




Yellow fever virus

Yellow fever




Source: PAHO, WHO, Michel and Bundy

Information about Legionella fighting

About Legionella (Source: GSF - National Research Center for Environment and Health)

The genus Legionella bacteria was first detected in 1976: During a meeting of war veterans (legionnaires) in Philadelphia / USA broke out among the participants from an epidemic of the cancer more than 200 people and 30 died. Probably responsible for the epidemic strain of Legionella pneumophila, the severe pneumonia (Legionnaires' disease can cause was). Since 2001, Legionella infections are notifiable.
Legionella bacteria are not exotic, but are found in nature in almost all surface waters and even in groundwater. From there they can go - despite technically conventional water treatment - with the raw water into drinking water systems. Legionella bacteria live in a kind of microcosm, for example, in the biofilm of Wasserrohen and even into host cells such as amoebae. Their concentration in water depends both on long residence times (stagnation), suitable food source and the acidity and the water temperature. According to recent studies is the increase in a temperature range between 25-50 degrees, the optimal growth is 35-37 degrees. It was only 50 degrees, growth is inhibited, from 55 degrees, it is slow to die off, while temperatures over 60 degrees are not usually survive. In the cysts (resistant survival structures) of amoebae legionellae can, however, large fluctuations in temperature and customary measures to resist in drinking water treatment.

Infection by Legionella occurs most commonly through inhalation of the pathogen on a aerosolhaltiges air-water mixture, such as when showering. According to Association of Water Technologies infection even when drinking or swallowing water containing the agent can not be excluded, since in particular for lung patients and smokers of the swallowing reflex is not fully functioning and therefore fluid in the respiratory tract and thus could get into the lungs. A transmission by infected persons is not possible, wound infections are extremely rare. In general, people are threatened with an immunocompromised state of health. This includes in particular the elderly, smokers, the chronically ill and weakened by acute treatments. Men are affected about twice as often as women. Typical clinical pictures are Pontiac fever with flu-like symptoms and Legionella pneumonia with sometimes fatal health problems that can only be treated with antibiotics and result in untreated cases, death (according to Deutsches Ärzteblatt 05/2006 to 30,000 deaths per year) can. Because the symptoms of legionella infection, which a severe cold the same (such as fatigue, cough, fever, headache and body pain), the definite diagnosis is often problematic.