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The Hidden Dangers: Common Diseases and Infections Linked to Public Toilets

  • November 16, 2023
  • 6 Min Read
Maintaining hygiene in Public toilet partitions from Greenlam Sturdo

Public toilets are commonly perceived as a breeding ground for germs and diseases. The confined and shared nature of public restrooms creates an environment where various pathogens can thrive and spread. This, in turn, leads to an increased risk of infections and illnesses among individuals who use the facilities. Among the most common are gastrointestinal infections like norovirus, E. coli, and salmonella, as well as respiratory infections such as influenza and common cold. In this article, we shed light on the common diseases associated with public toilets. Furthermore, we provide practical guidance on maintaining proper hygiene and ensuring safe restroom designs that promote healthier restroom environments and enhance the overall well-being of users.

Common Diseases and Infections

Some common diseases associated with public toilets include:

  • Gastrointestinal Infections

Gastrointestinal infections can result from pathogens like E. coli, Salmonella, and norovirus found on toilet seats, flush handles, and doorknobs in public restrooms. These pathogens, when transmitted through contaminated hands to the mouth or food, can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, and nausea. Proper hygiene practices, including thorough handwashing and avoiding direct contact with potentially contaminated surfaces, are essential in preventing the spread of these pathogens and reducing the risk of gastrointestinal infections.


Related: Choosing the Right Material for Toilet Partitions & Urinal Dividers

  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

Insufficient hygiene practices in public toilets can contribute to the transmission of bacteria that cause Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs), particularly in women. Inadequate wiping techniques and incomplete cleansing may leave bacteria on the genital area, increasing the risk of bacterial entry into the urinary tract. Common bacteria like Escherichia coli (E. coli), found on toilet seats and handles, can lead to infection if proper precautions are not taken. Women, being more susceptible to UTIs due to their anatomy, should practice good hygiene habits, including wiping from front to back and maintaining regular urination habits, to minimize the risk of UTIs when using public toilets.

  • Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A, a viral infection, can be contracted through contact with contaminated surfaces or fecal matter present in public toilets. The hepatitis A virus is commonly found in the feces of infected individuals and can survive on surfaces for a certain period of time. If proper hygiene practices are not followed, such as inadequate handwashing after using the toilet or touching contaminated surfaces, there is a risk of transmission. Hepatitis A can cause inflammation of the liver and lead to symptoms such as fatigue, jaundice, abdominal pain, and nausea. To reduce the risk of hepatitis A transmission in public toilets, it is crucial to practice thorough handwashing with soap and water, especially after using the restroom.

  • Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Although rare, it is important to note that there is a minimal risk of contracting certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs) from contaminated toilet seats. Genital herpes, caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), and human papillomavirus (HPV) are two examples of STIs that can potentially be transmitted through direct contact with contaminated surfaces. However, it's crucial to understand that the risk of transmission is extremely low, as these viruses primarily spread through sexual contact rather than environmental surfaces.

Promoting Better Hygiene

While public toilets pose various health risks, practicing good hygiene and ensuring safe restroom designs can significantly reduce the likelihood of users contracting diseases. Here are some effective measures that can help mitigate the associated risks

  • Hand Hygiene: Thoroughly washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after using the toilet is crucial. Encourage the provision of hand sanitizers as an alternative when handwashing facilities are not readily available.
  • Antibacterial Surfacing Solutions: Installing public toilet partitions and cubicles with laminates possessing antimicrobial properties can help inhibit the growth of bacteria and improve overall hygiene in public toilets.
  • Clean and Well-Maintained Facilities: Regular cleaning and maintenance of public toilets are vital. Ensure that toilets are cleaned using appropriate disinfectants, paying attention to high-touch surfaces such as toilet seats, flush handles, faucets, and doorknobs.
  • Touchless Fixtures: Consider installing touchless fixtures in public toilets, such as automatic flush systems, sensor-operated faucets, and motion-activated soap dispensers. This can help minimize contact with potentially contaminated surfaces to a great extent.
  • Adequate Ventilation: Proper ventilation is crucial for minimizing unpleasant odors and reducing the concentration of airborne pathogens. Ensure that public toilets have adequate ventilation systems in place.
  • Signage and Education: Display informative signage that emphasizes the importance of hygiene practices, including proper handwashing techniques and the responsible use of facilities. Educate the public about the low risk of disease transmission in public toilets when proper hygiene measures are followed.

About Greenlam Sturdo

Greenlam Sturdo specializes in manufacturing high-quality restroom solutions that not only combat the growth of germs and bacteria but also exhibit resistance to stains, scratches, abrasion, and moisture. Our comprehensive range includes premium bathroom stalls, urinal dividers, restroom cubicles, and various other restroom solutions. If you wish to learn more or want to discuss a requirement, feel free to contact us at 1800 833 0004 or via email at Alternatively, you can fill out our contact form, and one of our team members will promptly reach out to assist you.

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