The transmission of bloodborne pathogens from one person to another occurs through the transfer of infected body fluids.
Common body fluids which can transmit pathogens include:
Semen and vaginal secretions can transmit bloodborne pathogens, but only during sexual contact.
Wearing disposable gloves can help protect you from accidental exposure to bloodborne pathogens.
Some body fluids have no documented risk of transmitting bloodborne pathogens unless they are visibly contaminated with blood. These fluids include:
Although the risk of contracting a pathogen from these bodily fluids might be low, you may not always be able to tell which fluids you are handling, or whether injury has mixed them with blood.
For example, a severe abdominal injury could cause blood to be present in urine or feces. Therefore, it is best to protect yourself from ALL bodily fluids.
Non-occupational bloodborne pathogens are most commonly transmitted through:
Occupational bloodborne pathogens are most commonly transmitted through:
It's important to remember the Hepatitis B virus can remain infectious outside of the body for up to 7 days. For this reason, it is essential that cleanup and decontamination of contaminated objects and surfaces be performed as soon as possible. This will reduce the risk of indirect contact resulting in a bloodborne exposure incident.
Understanding how bloodborne pathogens are transmitted will help reduce your risk of exposure and infection.
Casual social contact, such as shaking hands, hugging, or sharing a telephone or tool, does not transmit bloodborne pathogens.
Direct contact with blood or other potentially infectious bodily fluid can cause an exposure incident. Indirect contact with a contaminated object, such as a countertop, bedding, or clothing, can also cause an exposure incident.
Jasmine is a daycare worker taking care of children between the ages of 6 months and 12 years. Kevin is a 3 year old child at the daycare center and has been complaining of a stomachache. Suddenly Kevin begins to vomit unexpectedly. After Kevin's parents have been called to pick him up, Jasmine is asked to clean up the mess.
Although vomit is not documented as a risk for transmitting bloodborne pathogens, it is often impossible to determine if there is blood mixed in with the vomit. Even a very small amount of blood has the potential to transmit disease. You should always prevent contact with bodily fluids, regardless of whether blood is visible in the fluids.
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