Can you name 3 bloodborne pathogens? Do you know what a bloodborne pathogen is? Educating yourself on bloodborne pathogen exposure is imperative for anyone that is likely to be exposed to potentially infectious bodily fluids. This includes first responders, janitorial staff, law enforcement, health care personnel, and individuals assigned to clean up after an industrial accident.
Bloodborne pathogens are microorganisms (bacteria, parasites, viruses, fungi, etc.) present in human blood that can cause disease. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration defines bloodborne pathogens as:
"Infectious microorganisms in human blood that can cause disease in humans. These pathogens include, but are not limited to, hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)."
3 Bloodborne Pathogens:
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS, is a condition in humans that causes the immune system to fail. Symptoms of HIV can include fever, swollen glands, muscle and joint pain, headache, and sore throat. Currently, there is no cure for HIV or AIDS, so this diseases can be life threatening.
- Hepatitis B (HBV) and Hepatitis C (HCV). Nationwide, more than 1 million people are infected with Hepatitis B. This virus can lead to liver cancer, chronic liver disease, and death if left untreated. It is important to note that Hepatitis B can survive outside the body for at least 1 week in dried blood. Fortunately, a hepatitis B vaccination has been available since 1982. With over 3.9 million infected people in the U.S., Hepatitis C (HCV) is the most common chronic bloodborne infection. Symptoms of HCV can take years to manifest, but can include flu-like symptoms, dark urine, jaundice, abdominal pain and vomiting, and fatigue. Although drugs have been developed for the treatment of HCV, only 10-40% of patients respond to the medication.
- MRSA. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is an infection caused by a strain of staph bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotics. People who carry MRSA but do not have signs of infection can spread the bacteria to others and potentially cause an infection.
Transmission of Bloodborne Pathogens
Most bloodborne pathogens are transmitted when blood or body fluid from an infected person enters the body of another person. This can happen through abrasions, needlesticks, human bites, or through mucous membranes.
Not everyone who has been infected with a bloodborne pathogen knows they have been infected. Therefore, it is important to treat all blood and body fluids as if they contain a life threatening illness. If you are faced with a situation that requires you to handle blood or body fluids, reaching out for help is the best way to protect yourself from infection.
Aftermath has handled blood cleanup, communicable disease decontamination, and specialty sanitization for thousands of crime scenes and contaminated buildings. We are available 24 hours a day -- contact us today for more information.