Environmental Health Practitioner Manual: A resource manual for Environmental Health Practitioners working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities

2 Poor hygiene and disease

Page last updated: November 2010

There are many sicknesses which can be caused by inadequate (poor) domestic or personal hygiene.

Signs of poor domestic hygiene include:

  • not cleaning the toilet
  • not getting rid of rubbish
  • not washing clothes and bedding frequently
  • not storing food properly
Signs of poor personal hygiene include:
  • not washing hands
  • not showering
  • not washing hair

Diseases in Indigenous communities caused by germs and parasites resulting from inadequate domestic and personal hygiene

Bacterial

  • food poisoning
  • gastroenteritis
  • diarrhoea caused by Campylobacter
  • pneumonia
  • trachoma
  • skin infections

Viral

  • hepatitis A
  • gastroenteritis
  • colds and flu

Parasitic

  • giardiasis
  • scabies infection
  • pediculosis (head lice infection)
  • hookworm infection
  • threadworm infection
  • roundworm infection (strongyloides)
Poor domestic and personal hygiene practices can help the transmission of disease-causing germs:
  • directly by the faecal-oral route, or by person to person or pet to person contact
  • indirectly by vectors coming into contact with people or their food, people breathing in airborne droplets of moisture which contain germs or eating contaminated food.