Summary of Study Session 32
In Study Session 32, you have learned that:
- Faeco-oral diseases are caused by infectious agents whose route of exit from the body is in the faeces, and whose route of entry to new hosts is via the mouth.
- Faeco-oral diseases can be caused by bacteria, viruses, protozoa and helminths.
- Transmission of the infectious agents that cause faeco-oral diseases can be by the direct route, when hands contaminated with faeces make contact with the mouth. Indirect transmission is via contaminated food, water, soil, utensils or flies.
- The common symptoms and signs of most faeco-oral diseases can include diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain and fever or shivering.
- Diarrhoea in different faeco-oral diseases may be acute or persistent (chronic), watery or bloody.
- Young children are particularly vulnerable to dehydration (loss of body fluids and salts) due to diarrhoeal diseases. Diarrhoea is the second most important cause of death among children aged under five years.
- The key to the treatment of diarrhoeal diseases is rehydration with oral rehydration salts (ORS), which should be given to the patient until all diarrhoea has ceased. Zinc supplements for affected children are also recommended by the WHO.
- Prevention and control measures include handwashing with soap and clean water; safe preparation and serving of food; thorough cleaning of all cooking, drinking and eating utensils, and containers for drinking and storing water; safe disposal of faeces and other wastes, use of latrines, and protection of water sources from contamination (e.g. by avoiding open defaecation in fields); and control of flies.
- Other protective measures include exclusive breastfeeding for all infants until the age of six months, feeding children adequate nourishing food to prevent malnutrition and immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases.