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Diseases & Cures

How Do People Become Infected By Bloodborne Pathogens?

No one wants to be stuck by a needle. And no one wants to be stuck by a needle that may be carrying bloodborne pathogens.

If that does happen, there is a chance a person can be infected with a disease such as hepatitis C, hepatitis B, HIV, and others.

As scary as this sounds, it doesn’t have to be this way! There are ways to prevent infection against bloodborne pathogens.

Keep reading to learn how to prevent this from happening and a little more about bloodborne pathogens training as well!

Why Should I Be Interested in Bloodborne Pathogens Training?

Not everyone is at equal risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens. The following career paths and employment areas are more at risk for exposure:

  • Housekeeping personnel
  • First responders
  • Nurses and doctors
  • Workers in hospital laundry facilities
  • Anyone assigned to administer first aid (like teachers, school nurses, etc.)
  • Dentists and dental assistants
  • HIV and HBV laboratory researchers
  • Law enforcement officers
  • Firefighters

Although there is more of a risk for some people, everyone still has a risk of exposure if they come into contact with blood or bodily fluids. However, these professions are more likely to deal with exposure on a daily basis and should be aware of the dangers and preventative tips.

If you are in one of these professions or are thinking about joining one of the above occupations, it may be smart to take an interest in bloodborne pathogens training. Some occupations require training through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Within the training, you will cover:

  • What are bloodborne pathogens
  • Understand the different types of bloodborne diseases and infections
  • Review the purpose of personal protective equipment
  • Know what to do in an exposure situation
  • Learn about personal hygiene to prevent exposure

The course will cover everything you need to know to stay safe!

How Do I Know if I’ve Been Exposed to a Bloodborne Pathogen?

Bloodborne pathogens can come from actual human blood, human blood components, or any other products that come from human blood itself. However, blood is not the only way to be exposed even though the name makes it seem that way!

If you have been exposed to one of the following, you may have been exposed to a bloodborne pathogen:

  • Semen
  • Vaginal discretions
  • Saliva
  • Cerebrospinal fluids
  • Unfixed tissue or organ
  • Synovial fluid
  • Amniotic fluid
  • Any bodily fluid contaminated with blood

There are many different ways to become exposed to another human’s bodily fluids, especially in certain occupations. You can become exposed in the following ways:

  • From mothers to babies during birth
  • Contact between mucous membranes
  • Puncture with a contaminated needle or broken glass
  • Sexual contact or sexual intercourse
  • Sharing of infected needles

Although this is the case, there are many ways to avoid exposure!

Know How to Avoid Exposure

Although some exposures to bloodborne pathogens seem like a fluke accident and cannot be prevented, many instances of exposure can be prevented! You should be vigilant in all situations to avoid any harmful or dangerous situations. Bloodborne pathogens training will go over everything you need to know to avoid exposure and what to do in a situation where you have been exposed.

Always Disinfect Surfaces

You may not always be able to see the bodily fluids or blood that may be contaminated with bloodborne pathogens. And if you do see any dry blood or fluids, this can still expose you to harmful diseases!

To make sure you properly disinfect and clean surfaces, do the following:

  1. Do not let anyone else get near the blood or the area where the blood has been
  2. Use disposable gloves
  3. Absorb the blood with a paper towel
  4. Use a bleach solution on the infected surface and let sit for at least 20 minutes
  5. Wipe up with a cloth or rag
  6. Immediately dispose of the item used to clean the infected surface
  7. Wash your hands with hot soap and water for at least 20 seconds

If the surface that needs cleaning is a carpet, you need to take extra steps to ensure proper disinfection. You should clean the area at least two extra times with a proper carpet disinfectant (as bleach may ruin the carpet). You’ll need to then rinse the area and make sure it is completely dry of any remaining moisture after cleaning.

You will also need to clean furniture or clothes in a different way than a tile or wooden floor as well.

You should never leave an infected area without cleaning it up. This increases the risk that someone else may become infected.

Use Proper Personal Protective Equipment

If you’re ever in a situation where you need to clean up blood or bodily fluids, you need to know how to protect yourself. You should always have the following:

  • Gloves
  • Gowns
  • Masks
  • Any type of eye protection (like goggles)
  • Face shields

It is never a good idea to use your bare hands in an emergency situation. Using PPE to prevent exposure to bloodborne pathogens will keep you safe.

Stay Up to Date on Your Vaccinations

This tip may be the easiest way to protect yourself from any harmful diseases associated with blood or bodily fluids!

You should stay up to date with your vaccines for Hepatitis B. Although there are not currently vaccines for Hepatitis C or HIV, getting one vaccine is still better than none!

There is a ton of research happening in regards to finding vaccines as well. There are trials currently to find a vaccination for HIV that is safe and works.

Use Protection During Sex

When someone thinks of a bloodborne pathogen, the first thing they think of is blood. However, bloodborne pathogens can spread through bodily fluids.

One common way they spread is through unprotected sex when one person comes into contact with another person’s infected bodily fluids. To prevent this from happening, taking every precaution possible with condoms can help prevent the spread. You should also talk to your partner about any potential diseases they may have to be aware of the potential risks associated with sexual intercourse.

Cover Your Cuts

The easiest way for a bloodborne pathogen to infect your body is through any opening or broken skin. If you find you have a cut or scrape and are dealing with someone else’s blood, you should immediately cover the area.

Even if you plan to wear gloves, you should cover the area if there is a cut on your hand in case the glove gets a tear in it. You should also remove any rings or bracelets to prevent ripping as well.

Avoid Cross-Contamination

In any crisis, it is easy to forget any training or tips you’ve received in the past about how to stay safe. The main goal is to fix the crisis.

However, if you find yourself in a situation where multiple people have cuts or wounds, it is crucial that you care for one at a time with different equipment.

You should never use the same gloves when caring for two or more different people. You also need to switch out any tools or equipment you used for the first to make sure it is properly sanitized for the other person.

Use Sharp Disposal Containers and Biohazard Bags

You know those boxes that you see in all doctor’s offices and even at vets? These are to dispose of any sharp objects that could possibly contain any blood or bodily fluids.

By using a sharp disposal container, you are decreasing the risk of a needle or sharp object breaking a garbage bag and poking or cutting someone. If this happens, diseases can spread.

Not only should doctor’s offices, nurses at schools, or any other place that has dealt with blood and bodily fluids use sharp disposal containers, they should also use biohazard bags. These bags are properly labeled as biohazards so anyone handling them is aware of the danger associated with them. That way, they can take any precautions necessary to stay safe and out of harm’s way.

Go Get Trained

Being exposed to a bloodborne pathogen seems pretty scary, right? It doesn’t have to be that way, though!

If you’ve read this article and know you don’t want to risk your own health because of your profession, it may be time to get trained to know what to do in a potentially harmful situation! If you’re already trained with bloodborne pathogen training, there are many other courses as well that can help keep you safe!

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