Let’s open with a definition of bloodborne viruses (also referred to as bloodborne pathogens). For the purposes of our discussion, a bloodborne virus is a harmful viral microorganism that can be transmitted from one person to another via contact with bodily fluids. Some bloodborne viruses of concern include hepatitisA, B, and C, and HIV.
Bloodborne viruses vary in symptoms, risks factors, and treatment. However, preventing infection relies on understanding the differences between them and how to limit or control exposure.
Some bloodborne viruses cause few to no symptoms, while others can cause severe illness and even death. That is why it is important to understand the types of bloodborne viruses and what to do if you find yourself in situation where you need to clean up blood or body fluids.
Types of Bloodborne Viruses
Some common types of bloodborne viruses include:
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) — This is the virus responsible for causing acquired immunodeficiency virus (AIDS). AIDS is almost universally fatal and there is no cure. It is estimated that about 50,000 people will contract HIV each year.
- Hepatitis A — Although Hepatitis A is typically transmitted through a fecal-oral route, infection from blood transfusion has been reported. It can be mild and last only a few months or severe and last for several months and can even cause death.
- Hepatitis B — Hepatitis B is extremely contagious and over time can cause liver problems. Around 1.2 million Americans live with this chronic condition but are unaware they have it, and approximately 3,000 people die from it each year.
- Hepatitis C — The most common bloodborne virus in the United States, Hepatitis C affects the liver and can result in long-term health problems, including liver damage, liver failure, and liver cancer. Approximately 12,000 people in the U.S. die from the virus each year.
Who is Likely to Get Infected by Bloodborne Diseases
According to Healthy Working Lives: "Workers who come into contact with bodily fluids from other humans are at risk from BBVs, particularly if their work also involves sharp or abrasive implements or substances that may break the skin.
Healthcare workers are at an obvious risk. Less obvious, perhaps, are those who work for cleansing or recreation/parks departments and staff who conduct bodily searches or searches of personal effects. Staff who work in these circumstances may come into contact with used needles.
The level of risk will depend on:
- Frequency and scale of contact with bodily fluids.
- Type of fluid or material they come into contact with.
- Activity the person must conduct in relation to the infections material.
- Nature of the infection contained in the material."
Bloodborne Virus Prevention
The best, and most obvious, way you can prevent the spread of bloodborne viruses is to limit your exposure to potential bloodborne pathogens. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to clean up the blood or body fluids of another person, it is important to stop and evaluate the risk.
Instead of putting yourself and your family at risk for potential bloodborne viruses, contact Aftermath. We specialize in the safe remediation and thorough disinfection of sites that could contain potential bloodborne pathogens.
Healthy Working Lives: http://www.healthyworkinglives.com/advice/workplace-hazards/bbvs