Blood Borne Pathogens

American Red Cross

Bloodborne pathogens, such as bacteria and viruses, are present in blood and body fluids and can
cause disease in humans. The bloodborne pathogens of primary concern are hepatitis B, hepatitis C
and HIV. These and other bloodborne pathogens are spread primarily through:
■ Direct contact. Infected blood or body fluid from one person enters another person’s body at a
correct entry site, such as infected blood splashing in the eye.
■ Indirect contact. A person’s skin touches an object that contains the blood or body fluid of an
infected person, such as picking up soiled dressings contaminated with an infected person’s
blood or body fluid.
■ Respiratory droplet transmission. A person inhales droplets from an infected person, such as
through a cough or sneeze.
■ Vector-borne transmission. A person’s skin is penetrated by an infectious source, such as an
insect bite.
TO PREVENT INFECTION, FOLLOW THESE GUIDELINES:
■ Avoid contact with blood and other body fluids.
■ Use CPR breathing barriers, such as resuscitation masks, when giving ventilations (rescue breaths).
■ Wear disposable gloves whenever providing care, particularly if you may come into contact
with blood or body fluids. Also wear protective coverings, such as a mask, eye wear and a gown, if blood or other body fluids can splash.
■ Cover any cuts, scrapes or sores and remove jewelry, including rings, before wearing disposable gloves.
■ Change gloves before providing care to a different victim.
■ Remove disposable gloves without contacting the soiled part of the gloves and dispose of them in a proper container.
■ Thoroughly wash your hands and other areas immediately after providing care. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer where hand-washing facilities are not available if your hands are not visibly soiled. When practical, wash your hands before providing care.
TO REDUCE THE RISK OF EXPOSURE, FOLLOW THESE ENGINEERING AND WORK
PRACTICE CONTROLS:
■ Use bio-hazard bags to dispose of contaminated materials, such as used gloves and bandages. Place all soiled clothing in marked plastic bags for disposal or cleaning. Bio-hazard warning labels are required on any container holding contaminated materials.
■ Use sharps disposal containers to place sharps items, such as needles.
■ Clean and disinfect all equipment and work surfaces soiled by blood or body fluids.
 Use a fresh disinfectant solution of approximately 1 1/2 cups of liquid chlorine bleach to
        1 gallon of water (1 part bleach per 9 parts water, or about a 10% solution) and allow it to
        stand for at least 10 minutes.
 Scrub soiled boots, leather shoes and other leather goods, such as belts, with soap,
        a brush and hot water. If worn, wash and dry uniforms according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
IF YOU ARE EXPOSED, TAKE THE FOLLOWING STEPS IMMEDIATELY:
■ Wash needle stick injuries, cuts and exposed skin thoroughly with soap and water.
■ If splashed with blood or potentially infectious material around the mouth or nose, flush the area with water.
■ If splashed in or around the eyes, irrigate with clean water, saline or sterile irrigants for 20 minutes.
■ Report the incident to the appropriate person identified in your employer’s exposure control plan immediately. Additionally, report the incident to emergency medical services (EMS)personnel who take over care.

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Billie Nicholson, Editor
September 2016

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