Faecal-oral Diseases Mubarak Akorede GBENLE (Class 1)
Saturday 18 Jan 2020

Faeces are the waste matter remaining after food has been digested in the small intestine, discharged from the bowels and eventually through the anus during defecation. Many diseases and disorders can affect bowel function and produce abnormalities in the faeces. For example, diarrhoea occurs when there is frequent defecation and excessive soft, watery faeces while constipation is characterised by infrequent evacuations and the production of excessive hard and dry faeces.

Faecal-oral diseases are diseases that transmitted from infected human faeces to human mouth. These diseases are result of ingesting contaminated faeces from an infected person. Faecal-oral diseases include diarrhoea, typhoid, cholera, polio, dysentery and hepatitis. 

Aside tha lack of proper sanitation leading to open defecation, it is absurd to think that a person takes in faeces into the mouth, the transmissions of these diseases are usually not deliberate but often occurs due to forgetfulness of personal hygiene practice such as properly washing the hands after using the toilet, coming in contact with contaminated water and soil (especially children playing in fields). Consequently, anything touched afterwards may be get contaminated with microscopic germs that other people may encounter. These diseases are preventable when we understand how they spread.

A short story
A man whose child who had diarrhea defecates near a house. A woman later passes the spot. She does not see the faeces. She steps on the floor and carries it on her feet into her house. Her child plays on the floor. He gets some of the diarrhea germs on his hands by touching a bit of the faeces that has rubbed off feet onto the floor. The child put his hands into his mouth and infects himself with diarrhea.

Faecal-oral diseases are primarily transmitted through the faecal-oral route  which can be displayed using f-diagram. The F-diagram was laid down in a publication by WHO in 1958 , it describes a particular route of transmission of a disease wherein pathogens in fecal particles pass from one person to the mouth of another person. The common factors in the fecal-oral route can be summarized as five Fs: fingers, flies, fields, fluids, and food.

The followings are ways to prevent faecal-oral diseases:
  • Frequent hand washing with soap and water together with hand sanitizers.
  • Safe and careful food-handling practices i.e. proper washing of fruits, meats, vegetables etc. with clean water before consumption.
  • Ensure safe disposal of faeces and that do not come in contact with surface and groundwater sources.
  • Teach children never to swallow water in pools or water-play areas.
  • Proper solid waste management. 
  • Water safety practices such as covering your drinking water container and having a permanent water scooping container
  • Proper disposal and reuse of house wastewater.
  • Get rid of stagnant water from your surrounding to avoid breeding space for mosquitoes and other disease carrying vectors.

When we keep the environment, we keep our health.

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