Skip to content
July 4, 2013 / C H Thompson

Diseases associated with lack of sanitation

The adjacent diagram illustrates the major transmission pathways of faecal-oral diseases.  Sanitation breaks transmission by preventing the contamination of ‘fluids’ and ‘fields’ and via removal of breeding grounds for flies. sanitation image

Faecal-oral diseases represent the largest health burden associated with a lack of improved sanitation, diarrhoea being the most burdensome of these and accounting for over 1.6million child deaths each year.

Most evidence exists for the impact of sanitation on diarrhoeal diseases, though there is also evidence for the protective effect against hookworm, roundworm and whipworm, and a growing body of evidence for prevention of trachoma transmission via reductions in fly populations.

  • The major soil-transmitted helminths showing association with poor access to improved sanitation are hookworm, roundworm and whipworm, all of which are transmitted when eggs are passed in human faeces which is then left in the environment.
  • Beef and pork tapeworms infect humans when infected and inadequately cooked animal meat is eaten.  Humans can then contribute to the continued life cycle by defecating in such a manner that the eggs in their faeces are eaten by the original animal hosts.
  • Water-based helminths have aquatic intermediate hosts, for example snails, and are responsible for diseases such as schistosomiasis/bilharzias. Humans can become infected through contact with water carrying schistosome larvae and contribute to the transmission cycle when the excreta or urine of infected persons contaminates water bodies containing the aquatic snail hosts.
  • Excreta-related insect vectors include mosquitoes, flies and cockroaches which breed in sites contaminated with human faeces. Sanitation-related diseases in this category include trachoma, transmitted in part via Musca sorbens flies which breed in scattered human faeces, and filariasis which is spread via Culex mosquitoes which breed in septic tanks and flooded latrines

Taken from and more details available at

Return to demographics

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: