Bloodborne pathogens are microorganisms found in human blood and bodily fluids. These pathogens can infect people and spread various kinds of diseases. The virus that causes AIDS is one of the most notorious bloodborne pathogens. Hepatitis B, Hepatitis B, and the Ebola virus are also some of the most common infections that are spread through bloodborne pathogens.
Ways To Protect Yourself
Developments and studies from bloodborne pathogens news identify the most common ways they are spread. These include sexual transmission and intravenous drug use. However, exposure to contaminated blood or bodily fluids also raises the danger of infection.
While these microorganisms can’t live long outside the body, they could thrive in bodily fluids longer. Though immediate infection is unlikely to occur, bloodborne pathogens may enter the human body through any mucosal membrane, and even through minor scrapes or wounds.
Therefore, it’s essential to comprehend the dangers associated with bloodborne infections and the precautions that may be taken to avoid exposure. The following measures may help protect you from bloodborne pathogens:
- Consider All Fluids To Be Infectious
When dealing with human blood and bodily fluids, the first guideline is to always treat them as contagious. Even if you think the blood is pathogen-free, handling it as dangerous offers security that you’ll likely appreciate later.
- Use Personal Protective Equipment
Perhaps the most crucial step to do in any scenario where you may come into contact with blood and body fluids is to ensure that you are using the proper personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE refers to the clothes and equipment that a person wears while performing an activity that may expose them to bloodborne diseases.
For instance, you may have observed that most doctors and health care workers always use latex gloves. They take this basic measure to avoid getting direct contact with blood or possibly contagious bodily fluids. If you operate in an environment where you are often exposed to blood or pathogenic organisms, you should have the appropriate PPE on hand.
- Follow Handwashing Protocols
Handwashing is a critical and very simple technique in preventing the spread of bloodborne infections. Hands and any other exposed areas should be properly cleaned immediately after possible exposure or risk. As much as possible, use a gentle, antimicrobial soap when washing. However, don’t use harsh soaps on delicate scabs or other wounds.
In washing your hands, the water should be warm but not scalding hot. Use soap and firmly massage it into a lather. Scrub your hands on all surfaces. Also, wash your fingernail and under it. Then, make sure you thoroughly rinse and dry your hands with a paper towel. Throw away soiled paper towels in proper bins.
Since handwashing is critical, you should also get acquainted with the locations of the closest handwashing stations. You may use handwashing facilities such as sinks and public toilets provided that they’re regularly stocked with soap.
Protective precautions are just as critical when cleaning up blood or other bodily fluids. Don’t use your bare hands to remove shattered glass that has been contaminated with blood or bodily fluids. You should use gloves and remove shattered contaminated glass with tongs or a brush and dustpan.
Every surface, instrument, equipment, and other items that have direct contact with blood or possibly contagious substances must be immediately sanitized and sterilized. Cleaning and decontamination of equipment and tools are required before every use.
When clearing up blood on a surface, gently cover the area with paper towels or rags. Then, carefully pour 10% bleach solution over it. Allow at least 10 minutes before wiping it. This will help eliminate bloodborne viruses prior to washing or wiping the surface.
If you come into contact with blood or bodily fluids while wearing clothes, immediately turn it inside out when you take it off to avoid the spread of pathogens. Wash any exposed body areas to eliminate any possibly contagious pathogens after taking off PPE and soiled clothes.
- Use Safe Disposal Practices
Eliminate all items that have been in direct contact with blood or bodily fluids. Handle all garbage with the same care as if it contains contagious materials. Mark and seal any potentially contagious substances and contaminated objects. Biohazardous material should never be disposed of in regular garbage cans.
Ascertain that every container is labeled with a biohazard symbol. Biohazard symbols imply the presence of certain pathogens in a particular area. Typically, biohazard symbols have a vivid orange backdrop.
What Do If You Have Been Exposed
Despite your best efforts, you may still come into contact with blood or other fluids in various ways. If you believe you’ve been in contact with blood or any bodily fluid, you must act immediately. Here’s what you should do in case of exposure:
- Clean Or Disinfect The Area
The initial step in this procedure is to properly cleanse the exposed area on your skin. Wash carefully with soap and warm water for a few minutes. Following this, you may use a disinfectant.
If the contact occurs through your eyes’ mucosal membranes, you must promptly soak it with clean water. After contact with blood or bodily fluids, several guidelines recommend varying times for flushing the eyes. About 10 and 25 minutes is a good duration.
- Seek Medical Assistance
After cleaning and disinfecting the affected part of your body, you should seek medical care right away. Your doctor will do an examination and decide whether or not further treatments are necessary. Additionally, they will determine if laboratory testing is needed and when it’ll take place. Take note that the signs of infection may not be obvious right away.
- Make Sure The Exposure Stops With You
Following a potential exposure to contaminated blood, you must monitor your interaction with other individuals until you get a proper diagnosis. The truth is that if you’ve been contaminated with a bloodborne virus, you could put other people at risk. This is particularly true in the case of hepatitis and HIV.
There’s no way to fully prevent possible contact with bloodborne pathogens and infections, much more so if you work in an environment where occupational exposure is possible. However, you can minimize infection by properly protecting yourself using the steps above. Protecting yourself means protecting others as well.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions, and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of Credihealth and the editor(s).
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