32.1  Classification of faeco-oral diseases and their infectious agents

Faeco-oral diseases can be caused by a wide range of infectious agents, including bacteria, viruses, protozoa (single-celled parasites) and helminths (parasitic worms). All human parasites, whether they are single-celled or many-celled, live inside the human body: some are harmless, but others cause disease. In this study session, we are concerned with infectious agents which are transmitted via the faeco-oral route.

  • Can you think of a viral disease that you learned about in Part 1 of this Module, which is transmitted faeco-orally?

  • Poliomyelitis (polio) is a viral faeco-orally transmitted disease, which was described in detail in Study Session 4.

You already know about polio, which has become rare in Ethiopia thanks to the immunization programme, so we will not discuss it again here. Table 32.1 lists the common faeco-oral diseases and where they are described in detail later in this Module. You may already know about some of them from your own experience in your community.

Table 32.1  Common faeco-orally transmitted diseases in Ethiopia and their causal infectious agents.

Faeco-oral diseaseInfectious agentStudy Session
CholeraVibrio cholerae33
Shigellosis (bacillary dysentery)Shigella species33
Typhoid feverSalmonella typhii33
Viral diarrhoeal diseasesRotavirus (most cases)33
Amoebiasis (Amoebiasis is pronounced ‘am-mee-bya-sis’) (amoebic dysentery)Entamoeba hystolica34
Giardiasis (giardiasis is ‘jee-arr-dya-sis’)Giardia intestinalis34
Ascariasis (ascariasis is ‘ass-kar-rya-sis’)Ascaris lumbricoides34
HookwormNecator americanus or Ankylostoma duodenalis34
Taeniasis (taeniasis is ‘tee-nya-sis’) m(tapeworm)Taenia saginata (most cases)38

Learning Outcomes for Study Session 32

32.2  Direct and indirect faeco-oral transmission