Cases of diarrhoea and dysentery have soared to 900 a day in Harare with health authorities blaming water shortages.
City health director Prosper Chonzi said each of Harare's 60 public clinics was treating an average of 15 water-related complaints a day, while private doctors were dealing with many more, the Herald newspaper said. No deaths have been reported.
State radio said taps ran dry in impoverished townships around Harare for up to three days at a time.
This forced households to search for water in drains and wells contaminated by collapsing sewerage facilities.
The northern Hatcliffe district, where basic houses were built after a widely criticised slum clearance operation in 2005, rarely had running water, city health authorities said.
Chonzi said two years ago diarrhoea cases were uncommon in the city of 1,5million people.
Such cases have also increased in the second city of Bulawayo and other centres, officials say, but no comparative tallies have been made available.
Environment and Tourism Minister Francis Nhema said Harare residents were storing water for long periods, risking the build up of bacteria, and underground water had become unsafe to drink.
"People now realise how much we have messed up our environment.
"Our actions have killed off the flow of water to water tables," Nhema said.
The newspaper itself is increasingly difficult to find because of the economic crisis gripping the country.
Daily water and power outages have affected industrial districts, further curbing production of already scarce goods after the government ordered the prices on all goods and services to be cut by about half to try to tame rampant inflation.
Acute shortages of fuel have crippled transportation and delivery services.
Official inflation is given as 4500percent, the highest in the world, but independent estimates put it closer to 20000percent .
The International Monetary Fund has forecast inflation reaching about 100000percent by the end of the year.
Stores across the landlocked nation remain empty of corn meal, bread, meat and other staple foodstuffs as producers say they cannot afford to sell their products below the cost of production and distribution. - Sapa-AP