Transmission of Communicable Diseases Via Intestinal Discharges
Transmission of Communicable Diseases Via Intestinal Discharges
Communicable diseases, otherwise known as infectious or contagious diseases, are spread from one individual to the other, from an animal to the other or from an animal to a person and vice versa. The malady is transmitted directly through either a vector or toxins in foods or indirectly via the environment through infectious agents. The agents include bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa. Communicable diseases can be spread sexually, via the respiratory system, intestinal discharges, insects, or blood. This paper, however, focuses on communicable diseases spread via intestinal discharges, which include cholera, dysentery, and typhoid (Webber, 2012).
Spread of diseases through infectious agents depends on the social or environmental conditions that favor the growth of the agent and immunity of the community. Communicable diseases spread rapidly during an outbreak particularly in areas that are overcrowded, have poor hygiene conditions, and the population is vulnerable to disease. The diseases are most common in infants and during early childhood because the population has low immunity and has poor hygiene. Children are often in contact with other children, and this may easily spread infectious agents from one infected child to the other. They are also in contact with objects such as floors, diapers, doorknobs, toys, and other playing objects, which may spread germs if they are contaminated with fecal matter. Children have poor hygiene habits because they often forget to wash their hands, and may eat food with contaminated hands, or nibble on contaminated objects. Child caregivers and parents also act as agents because sometimes they may forget to wash hands when feeding, changing diapers or wiping children’s noses, which is a route of transmission (World Health Organization, 2010).
Direct transmission via intestinal discharges involves the fecal-oral route where infected fecal matter is transferred by hand to mouth. This is common in day care centers and public institutions with inadequate hygiene facilities. Indirect transmission involves ingestion of infected food, consumption of unpasteurized milk, drinking or bathing in contaminated water, or via contaminated inanimate objects called fomites such as surfaces and bedding. Water causes diseases when it is contaminated with sewage or other pollutants containing infectious agents. Thus, it serves as a vehicle for transmission of the agents to the host when consumed without observing precautionary measures leading to enteric diseases. Milk also serves as a vehicle for transmission because it harbors and acts as a growth medium for many agents including Campylobacter, which mainly causes diarrhea (Maritime and Coastguard Agency, 1999). Consumption or unpasteurized milk will cause ingestion of the infectious agents causing enteric infections. Improperly cooked food, unrefrigerated food, or raw food is a haven for many infectious agents such as Salmonella. Food that has been in contact with infected surfaces or objects also serves as a significant route of transmission of the agents. Ingestion of infected food causes food poisoning, amoebic dysentery, diarrhea, and salmonella infections such as enteric fever. Insects such as flies mechanically transmit infectious agents when they land on food or a bite-wound. The insects walk on infected fecal matter and transfer the agents to food and surfaces causing typhoid, bacillary dysentery, and other enteric infections (Rensburg, 1999).
Some of the most common enteric diseases include cholera, typhoid and dysentery. Cholera results from eating shellfish, fruits, vegetables, or ice cream, and drinking water contaminated with Vibrio cholerae. Common cases occur in areas sans proper sanitation and leaking sewage. It manifests itself through bowel symptoms such as profuse and watery diarrhea containing particles resembling rice grains and mucus, vomiting, abdominal cramps, restlessness, a state of collapse due to dehydration, and rapid breathing. Treatment involves administration of antiemetic tablets, drinking lots fluids, and a solution of salt and water (Maritime and Coastguard Agency, 1999). Patients should be confined in bed until they recover from dehydration. Typhoid is caused by consumption of food or water infected with Salmonella typhi. Symptoms include severe fever, non-bloody diarrhea, gastroenteritis and profuse sweating. Treatment involves administration of antibiotics and consumption of many fluids. The patient should also be confined in bed for recovery and observation. Dysentery involves colon inflammation following consumption of contaminated food or water. Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, fatigue, fever and chills. Treatment involves oral rehydration therapy, intravenous fluid replacement and antimicrobial administration. If untreated, dysentery can be fatal (AMREF, 2007).
Communicable diseases can be prevented through maintaining proper hygiene, cooking and handling food safely, covering food and water, washing hands with soap, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, and quarantine. Quarantine involves isolation of infected individuals from accessing public areas or utilizing facilities until they recover from the infection (Maritime and Coastguard Agency, 1999).
Communicable diseases spread through intestinal discharges, which include but not limited to typhoid, cholera and dysentery are transmitted either directly or indirectly. Direct transmission involves the fecal-oral route while indirect transfer involves infected fomites and consumption of contaminated food or water. The diseases are common in young children because of their vulnerability, and public places with poor sanitation and hygiene. Control and prevention measures involve hygiene measures such as handling and cooking food properly, washing hands thoroughly with soap, and disinfecting surfaces such as tabletops. Quarantine is also necessary in controlling the spread of the disease in a population.
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The African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF). (2007). Communicable Diseases. Retrieved on 12 Dec. 2013 from http://www.col.org/resources/crsMaterials/Pages/comDiseases.aspx
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World Health Organization. (2010). Communicable diseases: Issue 3 of Public health in Europe. Copenhagen: Regional Office for Europe, World Health Organization.