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Think your water is safe? You might need to think again.

When we read about waterborne illnesses, we oftentimes expect the story to involve some far off, unfamiliar country. In truth, however, contaminated water occurs everywhere, including right here at home - and more often than you would think.

In fact, according to a recently released summary of notable diseases by the CDC, there were over 1,900 reports of waterborne disease outbreaks in the U.S. from 1971 through 2012, an average of roughly 45 each year. Even more alarming is that these outbreaks led to nearly 640,000 illnesses.

New York is no exception

When it comes to contaminated water and related illnesses, even New York residents are at risk from time to time. For instance, earlier this year, an outbreak of shigella bacterium swept through Rockland County and the surrounding areas. This particular infection, which is known as shigellosis, can cause severe and painful intestinal distress.

Just a few years earlier, in 2012, Albany experienced its own rash of Legionnaire's disease, which is also a bacterial infection often found in water. However, these are just a two of the many waterborne illnesses discovered in recent years in New York.

The truth of the matter is that you can contract these illnesses almost anywhere you come into contact with water, including your sink, shower or even in recreational areas such as lakes, rivers, pools and water parks.

No matter the circumstances, however, you need to seek medical attention as soon as possible if you believe you or a loved one may be infected with a waterborne disease. Prompt medical attention is essential to safeguarding your health. In addition, you may also want to speak with an experienced attorney to learn what legal recourse may be available if your infection is related to someone's failure to implement or properly follow health and safety measures.

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