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"What types of risks do human feces pose? "

ZocdocAnswersWhat types of risks do human feces pose?


SO, I've been living in a RV for awhile nestled on a hillside property. Since I've moved in the holding tank which holds all the waste hadn't been properly cleaned or flushed from the last tenant. The other week my landlord attempted to drain the dank and ended up causing a spillage of pure poo in the bathroom. It got all over the floor. His solution was to suck it up with a shop vac, put it in a bucket, and carry out of the RV to a nearby manhole. I am worried about the potential risks this poses for myself since most of the waste carried through my home, including my kitchen and living room, was not my own. Is it a matter of doing a thorough cleaning to rid any potential risks, or should I find housing elsewhere? I really like my cosy trailer spot so I just wanted to get some professional advice on what I should do. Thanks!


The risk from exposure to human feces (your own and other's) is mainly infectious diseases, and I recommend you discuss your concern with your doctor. There are numerous infections of all different types that can be communicated through feces. Just to give you some examples, bacterial infections that can be transmitted include cholera and other infectious diarrhea (also called dysentery) such as E coli diarrhea, salmonella or shigella; viral infections that are transmitted fecally include rotavirus, norovirus (which causes food poisoning on cruise ships), and hepatitis A and E (hepatitis B and C are NOT transmitted this way); parasites such as giardia and cryptosporidium, and various different kinds of worms including pinworms, ascariasis and tapeworms. Some of these pathogens are very hardy (especially norovirus) and take a very thorough, professional cleaning to be eradicated. That being said, in general there is a very low incidence of these conditions in the U.S. because our water and sanitation systems are so good; as long as you are healthy and do not have any conditions that suppress your immune system (such as HIV or diabetes), you would probably be fine even if you ate your neighbor's feces (which I do not recommend). If you do have any conditions that suppress the immune system or take any steroid medications, I would strongly recommend you see your doctor and discuss your exposure with them. In any case I think you should thoroughly clean your RV with disinfectant, focusing especially on surfaces that you touch frequently or prepare food on, and make sure you always wash your hands before eating and after using the restroom. If you develop any symptoms, such as fevers, chills, vomiting, diarrhea, skin changes, joint pains, fatigue or weight changes, definitely go see your doctor and discuss your symptoms and your concerns with them.

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