In a previous blog, we went over the issue of hoarding disorder, which can lead to a very unsanitary, if not filthy, environment. This poses a serious health hazard to anyone living in it, just like gross filth does. Let’s go over the differences between hoarding and gross filth, and how they are connected.
Gross Filth vs. Hoarding
Gross filth in the environment is typically not only cluttered with hoarded items it also has garbage, human and/or animal urine and feces, dirty dishes, rotten food, food waste, etc., that lead to very dangerous and unhealthy living conditions. In such cases, the property may be condemned or deemed uninhabitable.
While hoarding has to do more with the obsessive acquisition of items or animals, it can lead to some gross filth tendencies. If the home is over-cluttered with hoarded items or animals, it makes it very difficult to keep the environment clean and sanitary. If hoarding has been taken to this extreme level, there is more than likely an additional mental illness or addiction that prevents the occupant from functioning in a normal manner.
Examples of gross filth are:
- Excessive common household garbage building up over a very long period of time without removal.
- Humans or pets eating, urinating, and defecating freely inside the home without cleanup.
- Food laden plates or containers piled up in the sink, bathtub, and counters unwashed.
- Unflushed, overflowing, or broken toilets, showers, and sinks.
- Mattress, couches, and chairs soaked in urine, loose stool, blood, or vomit or covered in dirt or pet hairs.
- Light switches, walls, floors, entryways, and door jams smeared with food waste, dirt, feces, or urine.
This level of filth also attracts various insects and rodents and carries with it the risk of serious health hazards such as:
1. Hantavirus – Hantaviruses are a family of viruses spread mainly by rodents and can cause varied disease syndromes in people, including hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS)
2. HIV – HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It weakens a person’s immune system by destroying important cells that fight disease and infection. It can be transmitted through blood and the fluids in reproductive organs.
3. Hepatitis – There are various types of Hepatitis viruses that are transmitted via blood, feces, urine, and contaminated water.
4. MRSA – Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacterium that causes infections in different parts of the body. It’s tougher to treat than most strains of staphylococcus aureus – or staph – because it’s resistant to some commonly used antibiotics.
5. Tuberculosis – Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease usually caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) bacteria. Tuberculosis generally affects the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body.
6. E-coli – Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a bacteria that normally lives in the intestines of both healthy people and animals. Certain strains of E. coli can cause symptoms including diarrhea, stomach pain, and cramps, and low-grade fever. Some E. coli infections can be dangerous.
7. Bacterial or Viral Infections – The presence of filth is a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses, which can lead to serious infections in humans.
8. Allergies and Respiratory Disorders – The presence of dust, dirt, mold, hair, and feathers can cause allergies and other respiratory disorders.
Because the sanitary, structural, and health risks involved in a gross filth situation are beyond anything a relative or even social worker can handle, they seek the help of highly trained and equipped decontamination specialists to handle the clean-up of these kinds of biohazards.