You may find yourself in a situation in which you need to clean up a considerable amount of human feces. A number of reasons can exist that results in facing this type of unpleasant – and dangerous – task. For example, you may have an elderly loved one who is incontinent. No matter the underlying reason for the presence of human feces, you need to fully appreciate the health hazards this type of biological waste presents. The pathogens that can be in human waste include:

  • C. diff
  • Cholera
  • E. coli
  • Norovirus
  • Dysentery
  • Giardia 
  • Salmonella
  • Hookworm
  • Ringworm
  • Tapeworm

C. diff

Medically known as Clostridioides difficile, C. diff is a bacterium that can cause colitis, which is inflammation of the colon. It can also result in what can prove to be a more severe bout of diarrhea. 

Approximately 500,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with C. diff annually. Just under 20 percent of these individuals will contract C. diff a second time approximately two weeks to two months after their initial infection resolves. 

C. diff is particularly dangerous for people over the age 0f 65. About one out of 11 people in that age category die from C. diff infections. 

Cholera

Most people are unaware that cholera can be found in human feces on rare occasions in the United States. About 1,000 cases of cholera are diagnosed in the country annually. 

While it’s a positive reality that cholera is uncommon in the United States, the rarity of the disease can lead to a person who has it being misdiagnosed. Cholera is nearly always effectively treated when it is diagnosed promptly and treatment begins immediately. Antibiotics are the primary course of treatment for this disease.

E. coli

E. coli can also be transmitted through exposure to human feces. There are a number of different strands of E. coli. 

If E. coli is present in human feces that end up exposed in an open setting like somewhere in a residence, the bacterium rapidly multiples. This renders contact with human feces contaminated with E. coli even more dangerous.

There is growing research that E. coli can exist for a yet undefined number of days outside of the human body. What this means is that unless human feces are thoroughly cleaned and surfaces and objects sanitized, E. coli can continue to live and be transmissible. 

E. coli can cause what oftentimes is called severe food poisoning. It is possible for older individuals, very young children, and people with compromised immune systems to become seriously and even fatally ill with an E. coli infection. 

Norovirus

Norovirus is extremely contagious, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is transmissible via human feces. Norovirus can also be contracted via direct contact with an infected person, by consuming contaminated food or water, and by coming into contact with a surface contaminated by the virus.

Outbreaks of norovirus in California and across the United States are common. The most commonplace symptoms of a norovirus infection are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea 
  • Stomach pain  

While the vast majority of people survive a norovirus infection, it does prove fatal to people over the age of 65 and very young children. People with compromised immune systems are also at greater risk.

The extremely contagious nature of norovirus underscores the importance of following safety precautions when undertaking the cleaning and sanitization process in regard to human feces. This includes wearing appropriate personal protective equipment or PPE. The extremely contagious nature also underscores the benefits that are realized by engaging the services of a biohazard cleanup and sanitization professional to undertake feces cleanup in a comprehensive, thorough, and safe manner. 

Dysentery

There are two kinds of dysentery that can be contracted via exposure to human feces:

  • Bacillary dysentery
  • Amoebic dysentery

Bacillary dysentery is the most common form. Bacillary dysentery results from exposure to bacteria called shigella. About 500,000 are diagnosed with this type of dysentery annually. 

Amoebic dysentery is not common in the United States. However, people can become infected with Entamoeba histolytica when traveling in a tropical location abroad and bring the disease back to the United States.

In some cases, a person can have dysentery for weeks, months, or years and not know it. Others can become infected via contact with the feces of an asymptomatic individual.

The most common symptoms of bacillary dysentery are:

  • Diarrhea with belly cramps
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blood or mucus in the diarrhea

The most common symptoms of amoebic dysentery are:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Belly cramps
  • Weight loss
  • Fever

Amoebic dysentery can result in liver abscess, or pus in the liver. Signs of this far more serious condition are:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Pain in the upper right part of the belly
  • Weight loss
  • Swollen liver

Giardia

Giardia is a microscopic parasite that causes an illness known as giardiasis. A person can contract the giardia parasite through contact with human feces as well as with food, water, and soil that has been contaminated with feces containing giardia. 

Giardia has a protective outer shell that permits it to survive outside of the human body for extended periods of time. It is also tolerant of chlorine disinfection. This is yet another pathogen that underscores the importance of seeking professional biohazard cleaning and disinfection assistance if feces cleanup and sanitization is necessary. 

The most commonplace symptoms of giardia are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Greasy stools that tend to float
  • Stomach or abdominal cramps
  • Upset stomach or nausea/vomiting
  • Dehydration (loss of fluids)

Salmonella

Salmonella is a common bacterial infection, inflicting a considerable number of people in California and across the United States every year. Salmonella affects the intestinal tract, the most common symptoms of this illness being:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Blood in the stool

In the vast majority of cases in which a person is infected with salmonella, the symptoms last between two and seven days. Diarrhea may last up to 10 days in some instances. 

A small number of people will experience more severe symptoms. Older individuals, younger children, and people with compromised immune systems are most apt to experience severe symptoms.

The most common pathways to exposure to salmonella include:

  • Contact with contaminated food and water
  • Contact with contaminated feces

Hookworm

Approximately 576 to 740 million people around the world are infected with hookworm at any given time. Hookworm was widespread in the United States. In recent years, the incidence of hookworm in the U.S.A. has been significantly reduced. 

Hookworms live in the small intestine. Hookworms are passed via contaminated human feces. 

Most people infected with hookworm do not know they have these parasites living in them. Some people experience various gastrointestinal symptoms. In a severe case, a person infected with hookworm experience blood loss that can result in anemia. 

Hookworm infection can be treated with relative ease. A physician can provide medication to address this type of infection.

Ringworm

The moniker “ringworm” is a misnomer. Ringworm isn’t a worm. Rather, ringworm is mold-like fungi that lives on dead tissues in hair, nails, and skin (including your scalp). When ringworm occurs between toes, it is called “athlete’s foot.” When it occurs in the groin area, it is called “jock itch.”

Ringworm can be contracted in a number of different ways, including via contact with human feces. Ringworm can be treated with over-the-counter and prescription topical medications.  

Tapeworm

There are six types of tapeworms known to infect people. Parasitic worms, a person can become infected with tapeworm via contact with human feces (among other avenues).

According to WebMD, a tapeworm infection can cause:

  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Hunger
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies

In rare cases, tapeworm infection can result in intestinal blockage. It can also cause blockage of the bile duct of the pancreatic duct.