Regardless of whether you’re a medical professional, you should educate yourself on what bloodborne pathogens are and how to protect yourself from them. Bloodborne pathogens are microorganisms carried in the blood that can cause disease in people. These types of pathogens, such as bacteria or viruses, can be transmitted in many different ways and aren’t just carried in the blood.
Obtaining your bloodborne pathogen license helps you determine your exposure risk and how to respond if you are exposed. A study published in Science Daily found that needlesticks are common and often unreported- a concerning statistic when considering how to keep people protected from bloodborne pathogens.
Workers, including first responders, housekeeping personnel, nurses, those who work in the fitness industry, and others, have an increased exposure risk to bloodborne pathogens.
Improving people’s education on bloodborne pathogens helps eliminate exposure risks and increases people’s understanding of their medical evaluation rights after exposure.
Taking a bloodborne pathogen online certification provides an affordable, controllable way to become confident when dealing with bloodborne pathogens.
What Are the Most Common Bloodborne Pathogens?
The three most common bloodborne pathogens are hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV.
The hepatitis B virus causes hepatitis B, and it is a severe condition that affects the liver. Hepatitis B can either be acute or chronic, meaning it can be short-lived or have long-lasting effects. One of the long-term effects hepatitis B causes is increasing your risk of liver failure.
Some common hepatitis B symptoms include abdominal pain, dark urine, fever, joint pain, loss of appetite, and nausea and vomiting. There is no known cure for hepatitis B, and it can be transmitted sexually.
While hepatitis B can spread through various bodily fluids such as saliva or semen, hepatitis C spreads almost exclusively through blood-to-blood contact. However, neither hepatitis B nor hepatitis C spread through coughs.
Hepatitis C affects the liver, much like hepatitis B. It can also be acute or chronic. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, an estimated 75 percent to 85 percent of people with hepatitis C develop chronic symptoms.
There is also a risk that people who received a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992 could have contracted hepatitis C unknowingly. After 1992, doctors began screening patients for hepatitis C.
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a bloodborne pathogen virus that attacks the immune system. If left untreated, HIV leads to acquired immunodeficiency deficiency syndrome (AIDS).
There is currently no cure for HIV, and it spreads primarily through sexual fluids. However, with advances in medicine, people who contract the virus can lead normal lives if they find the proper treatment plan.
HIV often doesn’t present any symptoms, but if the patient experiences symptoms, they include the following:
- Night sweats
- Muscle aches
- Sore throat
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Mouth ulcers
The only way to know for sure if someone has HIV is through a blood test.
Less Common Bloodborne Pathogen Diseases
Other less common bloodborne pathogen diseases include:
- Adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (caused by HTLV-1)
- Relapsing fever
- Viral hemorrhagic fever
How Do Bloodborne Pathogens Spread?
Specific criteria need to be present for any disease to spread.
- There needs to be an adequate number of pathogens in the environment to cause infection.
- The environment must be conducive to the pathogen’s survival and reproduction.
- There must be a source-host transmission medium.
- There must be an entrance for the pathogen to enter the host.
- The host cannot be immune to the pathogen.
For bloodborne pathogens, the environment in which they thrive and reproduce is bodily fluids. The transmission mode varies, and we will discuss this in the following section. The pathogens’ entryways range from someone’s mouth, ears, eyes, or nose to needles injecting the pathogen into the host’s body.
How Do Bloodborne Pathogens Enter the Body?
Bloodborne pathogens enter the body through four primary pathways:
- Direct contact– Direct contact transmission describes microorganisms transferring from an infected person to another person. An example of this type of transmission is someone contracting a disease through sexually transmitted bodily fluids.
- Parenteral exposure– Parenteral exposure includes any time a pathogen enters a host through punctures or needle sticks. It also includes anybody becoming infected with a sharp contaminated object.
- Indirect contact- Indirect contact transmission occurs when a contaminated object contacts somebody’s skin or mucous membranes (found in the eyes, nose, mouth, and ears). Indirect transmission is why sanitizing equipment is so essential for safety.
- Airborne transmission– Airborne transmission happens when infectious droplets or particles stay alive in the air, and someone breathes them into their body. An Example of such a disease is tuberculosis. Airborne transmission with bloodborne pathogens is uncommon but possible.
Preventing Bloodborne Pathogens
There are a few vital components to protecting yourself from bloodborne pathogens.
If you are a healthcare worker or in an environment where the disease is prevalent, personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential. Personal protective equipment includes gloves, masks, protective outer garments, or face shields that prohibit transmission through multiple mediums.
Another essential component of protecting yourself from bloodborne pathogens is sanitizing any shared equipment that could cut or puncture people. In healthcare settings, this is standard procedure. Adequate disposal methods for contaminated material such as gloves or facemasks goes a long way in reducing bloodborne pathogen transmission.
Vaccines for diseases such as hepatitis B make it easy to eliminate the risk of some bloodborne pathogens. Healthcare workers must get vaccinated if they are going to work in an environment with high transmission risks.
Become Bloodborne Pathogen Certified Today
If you own a business or work in an environment with possible exposure risks, taking a bloodborne pathogen class teaches you how to put standard precautions in place. After taking a bloodborne pathogen course, you should be able to standardize procedures that keep you, your employees, and your business safe.
Online certifications offer easily accessible alternatives to getting your bloodborne pathogen certification. They allow you to control your schedule while still building your knowledge on how to keep environments safe. Search bloodborne pathogen training near me to start protecting yourself from bloodborne pathogens today.