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Infection Control and Bloodborne Pathogens

Blooborne pathogens are microorganisms such as viruses or bacteria that are carried in blood.  Hepatitis B virus, Hepatitis C virus and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) are examples of bloodborne pathogens.  These viruses can be passed on to others and can cause serious illness or death.

Rules to follow:

  • Treat all blood or potentially infection body fluids as if they are contaminated.

  • Always wear personal protective equipment in exposure situations

  • Replace gloves that are torn, punctured or soiled

  • Wash your hands immediately after removing gloves

Hand-washing

  • Hand-washing is one of the most important (and easiest) practices used to prevent the transmission of bloodborne pathogens.

  • Wash your hands or other exposed skin thoroughly as soon as possible following an exposure incident. 

  • Use antibacterial soap. Don’t use harsh, abrasive soaps. 

Skin provides a barrier

Unbroken skin forms a barrier against bloodborne pathogens.  However, infected blood can enter your system through:

  • Open sores

  • Cuts

  • Abrasions

  • Acne

  • Any sort of damaged or broken skin, such as sunburn and blisters

Mucous Membranes

Bloodborne pathogens may also be transmitted through the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and mouth.

Personal protective equipment

The best protection against exposure is to ensure that you are wearing gloves.  To protect yourself, it is essential to have a barrier between you and the potentially infectious material. 

If you are exposed

  • Wash the exposed area thoroughly with soap and water

  • Use non-abrasive, antibacterial soap

  • Flush mouth, nose and eyes for 15 minutes if blood contacts mucous membranes

  • Report the exposure to your supervisor

  • Request blood tests and a Hepatitis B vaccination

Proper cleaning

  • All surfaces, tools, equipment and other objects that come into contact with blood or potentially infectious materials must be decontaminated as soon as possible. 

  • Use household bleach diluted between 1:10 and 1:100 with water.  The standard recommendation is to use at least a quarter-cup of bleach per gallon of water. 

Precautions with needles

  • Needles should never be recapped.

  • Use a broom and dustpan to move needles

  • Never break or share needles

  • Needles must be disposed of in proper containers, not trashcans

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