Body Fluids that Contain Bloodborne Pathogens: What You Need to Know

Certain body fluids can contain bloodborne pathogens that infect humans and spread from person to person. The bloodborne pathogens of primary concern are human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV), and MRSA. Learn about which body fluids contain bloodborne pathogens and how to prevent the spread of infection.

Body Fluids That May Contain Bloodborne Pathogens

Infection from bloodborne pathogens are most commonly associated with exposure to the following body fluids:  

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  • Blood. This includes exposure to blood through needlesticks and sharps injuries, as well as skin and mucous membrane exposure. When handling blood, or items contaminated with blood, it is crucial to wear gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPE) to help prevent infection.
  • Semen and vaginal secretions. A disease that likely comes to mind when thinking about infected semen and/or vaginal secretions is HIV. However, studies have found that HBV and HCV can also be transmitted through the semen or vaginal secretions of infected individuals. This doesn't only happen through sexual intercourse. Nurses, doctors, and other healthcare professionals who come into contact with semen and vaginal secretions are at risk of infection, which is why all health workers should use universal precautions.

Other body fluids that can contain bloodborne pathogens include:

  • Pleural fluid: Fluid that is found between the layers of membranes that surround the lungs.
  • Amniotic fluid: Fluid that surrounds the fetus in the amniotic sac.
  • Cerebrospinal fluid: A clear fluid that is found in the brain and spine.
  • Synovial fluid: Fluid found in the cavities of synovial joints.

Unlike blood, semen, and vaginal secretions, exposure to these body fluids is unlikely outside of a hospital or healthcare setting. However, it is possible that some of these body fluids could be found at the scene of a serious trauma, suicide, or homicide.

What Bloodborne Pathogens May You Be At Risk For?

In addition to the previously mentioned diseases, coming into contact with these bodily fluids may put you at risk for much more than you would think, including:

  • Syphilis
  • Malaria
  • Babesiosis
  • Brucellosis
  • Leptospirosis
  • Arboviral infections (especially Colorado tick fever)
  • Relapsing fever
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
  • Human T-lymphotropic virus type I
  • Viral hemorrhagic fever

Prevent the Spread of Bloodborne Pathogens with Aftermath

Aftermath specializes in crime and trauma scene cleanup and treats all sites as if they contain a life threatening infection. During all stages of the cleaning process, our technicians are fully protected by PPE, including biohazard suits designed specifically for biohazard recovery. Contact us 24/7 to speak with a representative.

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Sources:

OSHA: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/personalprotectiveequipment/
Healthline: http://www.healthline.com/health/hepatitis-c-sexual-transmission
OSHA: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/hospital/hazards/univprec/univ.html
N.C. Department of Labor: http://www.nclabor.com/osha/etta/indguide/ig7.pdf

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