How the disease is spread by the fecal-oral route

Viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites spread from person to person, sometimes causing disease as they travel in and out of the body along various routes. When the disease is spread by the fecal-oral route, it means that the contaminated feces of the infected person were somehow ingested by another person.

For obvious reasons, this almost never happens on purpose. Often, an infected person may forget to wash their hands properly after using the toilet. Anything they touch afterward could be contaminated with tiny bacteria that others might encounter.


A person infected with a fecal-oral route uses the bathroom and then opens the toilet door. Another person came over, touched the soiled doorknob, and tensely bit his nails before washing his hands properly. Microorganisms are transmitted by the fecal-oral route.

Microbial transmission

Food workers must pay extra attention to hand hygiene because they can easily spread fecal-mouth disease through the food they prepare to anyone who eats it. In many foodborne outbreaks, poor hand hygiene is a contributing factor.

See if you’re washing your hands the right way

While improper hand washing is the leading cause of fecal-oral contamination, there are other equally important considerations. The following are other ways that microorganisms can cause disease through the fecal-oral route:

  • Drinking water contaminated with raw sewage.
  • Eat shellfish (such as oysters and clams) caught from contaminated water.
  • Eat raw fruit or vegetables that have been washed in contaminated water.
  • Sexual activity that allows direct mouth-to-anus contact or indirect contact (where the mouth touches something that touches the anus).
  • Pools that are not properly sanitized.

viral hepatitis

There are many microorganisms that can be transmitted by the fecal-oral route, including two of the hepatitis A virus and the hepatitis E virus. Other hepadnaviruses are spread through direct contact with infected blood, such as sharing used needles, body fluids, or through childbirth.


Good hand washing is a very effective way to break the fecal-oral circulation.Other important tools for preventing fecal-oral transmission of diseases include:

  • Use hand sanitizer without soap and water
  • Practice safe and prudent food handling practices
  • Avoid ingesting water from pools or other non-drinking sources
  • Use disposable towels
  • Clean or disinfect frequently touched, infected surfaces such as doorknobs, faucet handles, remote controls, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Which diseases can be transmitted by the fecal-oral route?

    Some diseases that can be transmitted by the fecal-oral route include hepatitis A, hepatitis E, cholera, adenovirus, and Escherichia coli. These diseases occur due to viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites that can be transmitted through fecal-oral transmission.

  • How does fecal-oral transmission occur?

    Fecal-oral transmission occurs when the contaminated feces of an infected person enters the body of another person. This can happen if an infected person doesn’t wash their hands properly after using the bathroom; anything they touch afterwards, such as a doorknob, can become contaminated with germs and be picked up by others. Eating food washed or harvested from contaminated water can spread disease in a similar way.