Many of us know that HIV, Hepatitis B virus etc. are dangerous and can cause fatal diseases, but do we know why that is so? It is because of the transmitting of bloodborne pathogens that this occurs. This is so because of contact with contaminated blood and or body fluids. While the common conception is that this primarily happens because of infected needles, this can also happen through unprotected sex, or through transmission through other bodily fluids like saliva, etc.
In fact while AIDS or HIV is one of the most popular examples of this phenomenon, Hepatitis B virus is a lot more common. AIDS is a disease that takes much longer to spread but can be fatal. There are different ways in which bloodborne pathogens are transmitted:
• Through sharp objects like knives, needles, scalpels, razors or blades, and that only if these objects were previously contaminated.
• The other way is through unprotected sex, through exchange of bodily fluids. Contraption has thus become a very important part of sex education programs conducted for children in school.
• It is also very important to cover open wounds, especially because there is a high risk of contact with external contaminated body fluids. Open wounds are an open invitation to danger
• Through any direct or indirect contact with the contaminated body fluid, whether through touch or taste or in any other manner.
However, it is necessary to be in the know of the exact ways in which the transmission takes place. It does not happen through touching the infected person or through using the same implements that the infected person uses, like taps or washrooms or utensils. It is only transmission through body fluids or when the pathogens enter the other person's body that there is any cause for concern.
It is especially important for people in high risk situations like:
• blood bank employees
• fire and medical persons
• janitors and waste bin handlers
• laboratories and scientific research places
to maintain exposure controls to minimize the risk of contracting such diseases. The people must be adequately insured, training and identifying those at risk, personal protective equipment and vaccine to ensure that there is no immediate danger. In most cases, if the case is diagnosed early, preventive measures can be taken and disaster can be averted. The Bloodborne Pathogen Standard is one that recognizes those at most risk, the ones that are exposed to contaminated waste, blood or other fluids for the purpose of research. It also includes sharp implements like those that are needed for research purposes like knives, scalpels etc.
In such a case, all those people who work in such situations must be trained and given proper instructions regarding the level of risk and how bloodborne pathogens spread and the steps to be taken in the case of an incidental infection. Things also must be appropriately labeled in order for the employees to be more careful in their day to day handling of material. Therefore, in more ways than one, prevention is better than cure.