Fecal Danger

Beware of the Poop

Poop the silent killer

Social convention dictates that openly discussing feces, poo, shit, scat, dung, excrement, doo doo, or whatever you may call it, outside the privacy of your home or doctor’s office is taboo. It is because of this that many are left ignorant at the menace that fece brings.

Unlike urine, which is harmless since it’s sterile, feces can be extremely harmful especially when ingested. All excrements contain bacteria and viruses. There are some bacteria that can be beneficial in one’s intestines however; it can be harmful when it infects the other part of the body.

For example, the bacteria Escherichia coli or E colican be normally found in the lower intestines of warm-blooded organisms like humans however when ingested; it can cause food poisoning that can be potentially fatal.

Another bacteria that are usually found in poo are the Salmonella and Shigella bacteria. The Salmonella bacteria can also be found in cold and warm-blooded organisms like humans and it can also be found naturally in the environment while the Shigella bacteria can only be found in primates. However, when these two bacteria are ingested, it can cause dysentery or inflammation of the intestines or colon, paratyphoid fever and typhoid fever.

Although it has been possible to detect viruses found in excrement by culturing, however; newer methods like electron microscopy has allowed screening of several other viruses, both old and new.

A healthy digestive tract does not have any viruses but viruses can be detected in one’s dung. If a healthy individual comes in contact with virus-infected feces, it is possible for that individual to be infected.

Enteroviruses like polio and Coxsackie viruses along with the Norwalk and Rotavirus are some examples of viruses that can be found in feces. Viruses, in general, can be transmitted or spread in a couple of ways and for gastroenteritis problems; it is usually transmitted from feces to mouth by tactile contact or oral ingestion of a contaminated food or item.

Another surprising content you can find in feces are parasites. Parasites are definitely not something you want in your body since as the term parasitism denotes; it’s a relationship wherein the parasite benefits at the expense of the host.
Intestinal parasites like Enterobiusvermicularis, Giardia lamblia and Necatoramericanus are common in the United States. Enterobiusvermicularis or pinworm or seatworm often afflicts children and is the most common parasite in the country. It can cause the infected individual constant itching that can lead to sleep disruption.

Giardia lamblia, on the other hand, causes the infected person to lose weight and vomit among others while the Necatoramericanus is a type of hookworm that can cause severe anemia. Hence, it is important to exercise proper hygiene like hand washing when you come in contact with animal dung or human feces.

These fecal contaminants are attributed to causing a handful of diseases among humans like –
Diarrhea – The second leading cause of death among children is a common and potentially fatal disease because of malnutrition and dehydration. It is caused by the rotavirus that can be obtained from drinking or eating contaminated food and drinks.
Hepatitis A – This liver disease afflicts both children and adults alike and is caused by the highly contagious Hepatitis A virus (HAV). It is caused by unsanitary conditions and ingested contaminated food and water.
Pinworms – Pinworm infections are fairly common especially in children age five to ten. Pinworms eggs can get on clothes, towels and bags that can easily spread over to the rest of your body and other people as well. Humans are the only host for these parasites hence; pinworms thrive in crowded living conditions.
Dysentery –It is formerly called flux and is associated with severe diarrhea that contains either blood or mucous. It is caused by fecal contamination by food, water, flies and items.
LCM or Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis – A viral infection caused by direct contact with rodent urine and feces. It can also be caused by a bite from an infected rodent or breathing in dust that is contaminated with an infected rodent’s urine or shit. There is currently no targeted treatment for LCM although anti-inflammatory drugs and ribavirin has been used.
Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome – A very common illness in East Asia, Scandinavian and Western Europe is characterized by hemorrhagic fever with renal failure. It is caused by a bite from an infected rodent or direct contact with its urine or feces. It is also possible to contract the disease by breathing in dust that is contaminated with an infected rodent’s urine or shit. On some rare occasions, it can also be transmitted by direct contact with an infected individual.
Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome – A potentially fatal disease, it can be contracted by coming into direct contact with an infected rodent’s urine and doo doo. You can also contract it by breathing in dust that are contaminated or in some rare instances, with a bite.
Toxoplasmosis – A parasitic infection caused by ingesting food or drink contaminated with an infected cat feces that can be dangerous for pregnant women and individuals with a weakened immune system.

In order to minimize the dangers that dung present, it is important to practice good hygiene especially when you come in contact with feces. It is also just as important to teach your children this good habit after they doo doo.

Experts recommend the following practice for handling shit –
While in the lavatory, avoid touching your face, mouth, eyes, nose or any open cuts and sores until you have washed your hands with soap and water.
Wash your hands immediately with soap and water after using the lavatory regardless if you poop or not.
Make it a habit of washing your hands with soap and water before eating or drinking.
If you are cleaning up your children’s doo doo, make sure to wash your hands afterwards before you touch anything else.
Dispose of diapers soiled with scat properly to avoid any contamination.
If feces should come in contact with any part of the body, wash with soap and water immediately.

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