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What are Bloodborne Pathogens? Are They Scary?

Collecting samples in test tube

Bloodborne pathogens are pathogenic bacteria in human blood that can cause sickness in humans. Dealing with exposure to bloodborne pathogens is key to staying safe in high-risk environments. Learn all about handling blood safely in our course here.

Bloodborne pathogens include, but are not limited to, hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Needles and other puncture-related injuries may expose workers to bloodborne infections. Workers in numerous vocations, including first responders, cleaning personnel in some industries, nurses and other healthcare personnel, all may be at risk for exposure to bloodborne diseases.

If you are stuck with a needle or other sharp item that has come into contact with the blood or bodily fluids of a person who has one of these illnesses, you may become infected with HBV, HCV, or HIV.

It is also possible for these illnesses to spread if infected blood or bloody bodily fluids come into contact with mucous membranes, an open sore or cut. Mucous membranes are the moist areas of your body that include the mucous membranes in your eyes, nose, mouth, and throat. Additionally, HIV can be transmitted from one person to another through bodily fluids such as joint fluid or spinal fluid. Furthermore, it has the potential to spread through sperm, vaginal fluids, breast milk, and amniotic fluid (the fluid that surrounds a baby in the womb).

Modes of Transmission

– Direct contact: Happens when microorganisms are passed from one infected individual to another without the need for a third party to be contaminated. A care giver’s body may become contaminated when infectious blood from another person enters through an open cut.

– Indirect contact: Defined as the transmission of an infectious pathogen through the use of a contaminated object or individual. For example, a caregiver may not wash his or her hands between caring for a patient who has infected bodily fluids and caring for other patients.

– Airborne: It is possible for infectious agents to spread through the air if droplets or small particles contain infectious agents that remain active for an extended period of time and distance in the air.

Tuberculosis is a disease that is commonly disseminated in this manner. Bloodborne pathogens, on the other hand, are not frequently distributed in this manner.

Danger Posed by Bloodborne Pathogens

It is estimated that 1.2 million people in the United States and 350 million people throughout the world have a positive case of Hepatitis B at any given moment. Out of that total, roughly 3,000 individuals in the United States and 600,000 people worldwide die each year from liver illness caused by Hepatitis B virus. There are many people who are infected with the virus and are completely unaware of it.

Because of the damage that the virus causes to the liver, by the time they begin to display symptoms, it is too late to do anything about it. Infection with a bloodborne pathogen, such as Hepatitis B, is spread through contact with the blood and other bodily fluids of an infected individual. They are pathogenic bacteria that can cause infection in humans who are otherwise healthy, either directly or indirectly.

What is Hepatitis?

Hepatitis B is a stealthy and insidious disease that kills without warning. It can take up to 30 years for symptoms to develop, and by that time, the liver has already been damaged to a significant extent. This liver damage is permanent and cannot be reversed. As soon as the sickness has taken hold, the afflicted individual will be forced to live with the disease for the rest of their days.

As much as 40% of all Hepatitis B and C infections can be traced back to a single incident of exposure in the workplace. The number of persons who get the virus has already increased as a result of the opioid epidemic and the misuse of prescription drugs.


It is becoming increasingly difficult to manage this problem, which is exacerbated by a growth of Covid-19 vaccines and inappropriate needle disposal. Some less fortunate places are utilizing incinerators to dispose of medical waste, including needles, while others are not. These incinerators, on the other hand, emit toxic gases and do not reach temperatures high enough to decompose the hazardous waste. In order to avoid being dumped at public landfills, needles are being dumped in public waste disposal facilities.

Aside from Hepatitis B and C, HIV/AIDS, Ebola, and other hemorrhagic disorders, there are a number of additional diseases that can be transmitted by bodily fluids. Learn all about handling blood and bodily fluids safely and effectively in our bloodborne pathogens course so that you can confidently work in high-risk environments.

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