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Michigan Environmental Education Curriculum
Water Quality - Pollutant Sources and Impacts

Bacteria are simple, single celled organisms that may also exist in colonies. These microorganisms perform many important functions in nature and some of them also cause diseases.

Examples of the waterborne diseases caused by bacteria are:

  • cholera – in severe cases, can cause death within hours
  • traveler’s diarrhea
  • typhoid fever – can persist in the body, making survivors disease carriers

Cholera and traveler’s diarrhea are typically treated by replacing the fluids and salts lost from the body and sometimes antibiotics are given to shorten the duration of the symptoms. Vaccines are available to prevent typhoid fever and antibiotics are given to persons who have been infected. As with viruses and waterborne disease, maintaining good public health practices is the best prevention.

Cholera

Cholera

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