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Foodborne Illnesses Caused by Human Waste: Prevention and Safety Measures

Foodborne illnesses are infections or irritations of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract caused by consuming food or water contaminated with pathogenic bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins, or chemicals. These illnesses can range from mild to severe, and in some cases, can even be life-threatening.

One source of food contamination is human waste. When feces (stool) are not properly disposed of, they can contaminate soil, water, or surfaces that come into contact with food. Feces can contain a variety of pathogenic microorganisms that can cause foodborne illnesses, including bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

Here are some common foodborne illnesses that can be transmitted through human waste:


  1. Salmonella: Salmonella is a type of bacteria that can cause an infection known as salmonellosis. This illness can cause symptoms such as abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Salmonella infections can be transmitted through contaminated food, water, or surfaces that have come into contact with feces.

  2. Escherichia coli (E. coli): E. coli is a type of bacteria that lives in the intestinal tract of humans and animals. Some strains of E. coli can cause foodborne illness, which can lead to symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever. E. coli infections can be transmitted through contaminated food, water, or surfaces that have come into contact with feces.

  3. Cryptosporidiosis: Cryptosporidiosis is an illness caused by the parasite Cryptosporidium. This parasite can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and dehydration. Cryptosporidiosis is transmitted through contaminated food, water, or surfaces that have come into contact with feces.

  4. Hepatitis A: Hepatitis A is a viral infection that affects the liver. It can cause symptoms such as fever, fatigue, abdominal pain, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). Hepatitis A is transmitted through contaminated food, water, or surfaces that have come into contact with feces.

Preventing foodborne illnesses caused by human waste:

There are several steps that can be taken to prevent foodborne illnesses caused by human waste:

  1. Proper hand hygiene: Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before handling food, after using the bathroom, and after handling animals.

  2. Proper food handling: Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw and cooked foods, and cook foods to the proper temperature to kill any harmful bacteria.

  3. Proper food storage: Store food at the proper temperature to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

  4. Proper sanitation: Properly dispose of feces and properly clean and disinfect surfaces that may come into contact with food.

In conclusion, foodborne illnesses caused by human waste can be serious and even life-threatening. By following proper hygiene and food handling practices, you can help prevent these types of illnesses and keep yourself and others safe.



  1. "Salmonella." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3 Mar. 2020, www.cdc.gov/salmonella/.

  2. "Escherichia coli (E. coli) Infections." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2 Mar. 2020, www.cdc.gov/ecoli/.

  3. "Cryptosporidiosis." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2 Mar. 2020, www.cdc.gov/parasites/crypto/.

  4. "Hepatitis A Questions and Answers for Health Professionals." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3 Mar. 2020, www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hav/havfaq.htm.

  5. "Food Safety and Sanitation." American Dietetic Association, American Dietetic Association, www.eatright.org/food/resources/safety-and-sanitation/food-safety-and-sanitation.


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