Bloodborne pathogens are microorganisms carried in blood and bodily fluids that can cause disease. Common bloodborne pathogens include Hepatitis A, B and C, and HIV.
Hepatitis causes inflammation and damage to the liver and, in the case of Hepatitis B, is highly contagious. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) attacks the immune system, leading to an increased risk of disease and AIDS.
“Bloodborne pathogens are transmitted through contact with infected blood and bodily fluids like semen, vaginal secretions and saliva.”
Bloodborne pathogens are transmitted through contact with infected blood and bodily fluids like semen, vaginal secretions and saliva. Infected fluids can enter your system through open sores, cuts, abrasions and mucous membranes like eyes, nose and mouth. Activities that can lead to infection are sexual contact, sharing needles, and needle-stick injuries. Actions that do not expose you to infection include touching or sharing materials with infected people and an infected person coughing or sneezing near you.
Signs and Symptoms
Hepatitis A, B, C
Not all who are infected with Hepatitis A, B or C develop symptoms, but symptoms that may appear include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, grey-colored bowel movements, joint pain, or yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice). Symptoms of Hepatitis A, B and C may appear within weeks and last anywhere from weeks to several months.
“Some who are infected with HIV may develop flu-like symptoms while others may have no symptoms at all.”
Some who are infected with HIV may develop flu-like symptoms while others may have no symptoms at all. Whether a person has any symptoms, HIV is still active inside the body. Even if a person feels healthy, it is still beneficial to see a healthcare provider and stay updated on the latest medication, which helps to treat the infection most effectively. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “these medications can limit or slow down the destruction of the immune system, improve the health of people living with HIV, and may reduce their ability to transmit HIV.”
To prevent the spread of bloodborne pathogens, it is important to always use personal protective equipment like gloves, gowns, goggles and masks. If exposed, remember to flush the site with water, cleanse it with soap and seek professional medical attention. Contaminated surfaces must be decontaminated with a spill kit or bleach solution.