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, which is transmitted faeco-orally?

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Poliomyelitis (polio) is a viral faeco-orally transmitted disease.

You already know about polio, which has become rare thanks to the immunization programmes, so we will not discuss it again here. The table below lists the common faeco-oral diseases. You may already know about some of them from your own experience in your community.

Common faeco-orally transmitted diseases and their causal infectious agents.

Faeco-oral diseaseInfectious agent
Cholera Vibrio cholerae
Shigellosis (bacillary dysentery) Shigella species
Typhoid fever Salmonella typhii
Viral diarrhoeal diseases Rotavirus (most cases)
Amoebiasis (Amoebiasis is pronounced 'am-mee-bya-sis') (amoebic dysentery) Entamoeba hystolica
Giardiasis (giardiasis is 'jee-arr-dya-sis') Giardia intestinalis
Ascariasis (ascariasis is 'ass-kar-rya-sis') Ascaris lumbricoides
Hookworm Necator americanus or Ankylostoma duodenalis
Taeniasis (taeniasis is 'tee-nya-sis') m(tapeworm) Taenia saginata (most cases)
Last modified: Thursday, 10 July 2014, 3:20 PM