Waterborne Disease in the United States

Image of an elderly woman in bed

The United States has one of the safest drinking water supplies in the world. Yet, the water we use for drinking, swimming, and even cooling high-rise buildings can be safer. About 7.2 million Americans get sick every year from diseases spread through water.

CDC’s first estimates of the impact of waterborne disease in the United States cover illnesses tied to all types of water use. They detail how many waterborne diseases, emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths occur every year, and what these cost our healthcare system. This type of information is referred to as the burden of waterborne disease.

While the United States has made tremendous strides in preventing waterborne disease over the last century, these new estimates provide a better understanding of the waterborne disease challenges we face in the 21st century. CDC, policymakers, related industries (for example, owners of large buildings and recreational water facilities), the public health community, and others can use this information to prioritize next steps in protecting the public from waterborne disease.