Faecal-oral diseases are those diseases that are transmitted by faecal material passing into the mouth, principally via contaminated water, hands and food, and are prevented by improvements in water supply, sanitation and hygiene. The most important of these diseases in most emergencies are various diarrhoeal diseases. Diseases with outbreak risk are those that may spread rapidly and require a rapid response to protect public health. They include cholera, typhoid, shigellosis, and hepatitis A and E. An outbreak, or epidemic, is the occurrence of cases of an illness clearly in excess of what is normally expected in a given area during a given period. Health professionals should be able to define what constitutes an outbreak or epidemy in a specific context for a given disease, given knowledge of previous disease patterns in the same area. The words outbreak and epidemic may have specific and different meanings in some countries but are often used interchangeable The disease incidence rate is the number of new cases for a given population per unit of time (e.g. a week). Health professionals should be able to judge whether incidence rates are high, stable or rising.
Outbreak or epidemic, of faecal-oral disease / High or significantly increasing faecal-oral disease incidence rates / Stable background incidence of faecal-oral disease
Prevalence and incidence rates, disaggregated by sex and age
Threshold / Standard
The greater the presence of faecal-oral diseases in a population, the greater the risks created by deficiencies in WASH conditions and the higher the priority that should be given to addressing those deficiencies. In addition, persistent high levels of faecal-oral disease in a population indicate ongoing problems with access to WASH facilities and services