Bloodborne Pathogens: Awareness and Prevention
Bloodborne pathogens are infectious microorganisms that are transmitted through the blood when someone’s skin gets cut or pricked by a sharp object that contains traces of contaminated blood. Bloodborne pathogens are dangerous because there is no way to get them out of the bloodstream once they enter a person’s body. Some common examples of bloodborne pathogens are human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.
What Can Happen If You Become Infected?
If you got infected by a bloodborne pathogen, it would distribute itself throughout your bloodstream and start controlling the cells working in your body. This can be life-threatening.
If you contracted hepatitis B or hepatitis C, your liver would become inflamed and you might develop liver cancer. You might then need to get a liver transplant, if you caught the cancer soon enough—otherwise, the result could be deadly. If you contracted HIV, the white blood cells in your body would be taken over by the bloodborne pathogens. Your body would have no defense against the germs that it comes into contact with daily. You would grow weaker and weaker until your body lacked the strength to continue to function.
Who Is At Risk?
Virtually anyone can be at risk of being infected by a bloodborne pathogen, but those particularly at risk include anyone administering first aid, nurses and those in the healthcare industry, and housekeeping staff. Those who have not been vaccinated against bloodborne pathogens are doubly at risk, because their body has no defense against the bloodborne pathogen, having no way to flush the pathogen out of the blood, unlike minor illnesses like the common cold that the body can get rid of through purging of mucus.
Defense Against Bloodborne Pathogens
The only defense that people have against bloodborne pathogens, besides vaccinations, is knowledge and practice of methods to use to avoid the risk of being infected by bloodborne pathogens. This includes proper protective gear like gloves and masks, and sanitizing aids that can protect against infected blood.
Taking a class on bloodborne pathogens is the best way to learn about bloodborne pathogens and ways to reduce the risk of being exposed oneself, as well as preventing others from being exposed. Completion of the class will satisfy requirements of the U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, preparing an individual to implement their knowledge in public or the workplace.