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Disease Name: Waterborne illness

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Please review the Idaho Reportable Disease Rules (IDAPA 16.02.10) for the most up-to-date information.

SCPHD requests prompt reporting of any suspected clusters of waterborne illness.  Testing of water sources will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Overview / Case Definition

There are two types of waterborne illnesses, potable water illnesses and recreational water illnesses and several waterborne agents. There are bacterial agents, viral agents, parasitic agents, and chemical agents which cause waterborne illness. Waterborne illnesses can be caused by ingestion or consuming water, by dermal contact, which is contact of the water with skin or mucous membranes, or by inhalation, which is by breathing in a mist or aerosolized water particles.




Within 1 working day

Reportable by Healthcare and Labs:

Reportable by Food Service Facility:

Suspect Reportable: Yes

Reporting Timeframe: Within 1 working day

Diagnosis / Testing

A diagnosis of a food or waterborne illness may be initially made clinically by documenting a person's signs and symptoms, their severity and duration, what the person has consumed before the symptoms began, and where the person may have traveled. Many food and waterborne illnesses caused by bacteria and viruses tend to be self-limiting. Because of this, testing may not be performed unless symptoms: are severe and/or persist beyond a few days, appear to be part of a larger outbreak, are thought to be due to a parasite, are thought to be caused by a different condition with similar symptoms. Testing may be performed on those affected to diagnose a condition and sometimes to monitor the effectiveness of treatment.

Laboratory testing on samples of the food or water that are suspected of causing illness may be performed to help determine the source of contamination, especially with outbreaks. In these cases, testing of both people and food and water may be performed at the state, national, or international public health level to determine which strains of microorganisms are causing illness, to monitor their locations, and to manage and contain outbreaks.

Initial testing for an individual suspected of having a food or waterborne illness often begins with an examination of stool. This may include one or more of the following:

Other tests may be performed in conjunction with or in follow up to stool testing. Some of these include:

In addition, specific nutrient media for culture and special techniques may be needed to detect and identify some microorganisms. The doctor must recognize potential exposures and request specialized testing.

Lab Tests Online. (3/30/2016). Food and Waterborne Illness. Retrieved from http://www.labtestsonline.org/understanding/conditions/food-and-waterborne-illness/start/3 


Additional Information

SCPHD requests prompt reporting of any suspected clusters of waterborne illness.  Testing of water sources will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

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