What Are The Leading Blood Borne Pathogens And How Are They Spread

By Greg Garner

Blood borne pathogens are tiny microorganisms that are found in the blood of humans. If exposed to this blood, other humans can become infected. Some of the worse and most common blood borne pathogens includes the following among others.

Hepatitis B

Approximately one third of the world’s population is infected with Hepatitis B. The most common way to contract Hepatitis B is through direct contact with an infected person’s blood, followed by sexual contact. The disease attacks the liver and presents itself in infected persons though general ill health such as nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, dehydration, body aches, fever, itchy skin, a darkening of the urine and jaundice, or yellowing of the skin and eyes. A scarring of the liver occurs called cirrhosis. People with Hepatitis B are likely to develop cancer of the liver.


Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is an infection of the liver, which leads to shut down, or liver cancer. This type of Hepatitis is asymptomatic and can go undiagnosed and untreated for years, all the while causing damage. Sexual contact used to be considered the primary cause of transmission but recent studies have disproved this making contaminated blood contact the primary threat. This usually occurs via accidental needle pricks and blood spatter to the eyes, mouth, or open wound. Until the early 90’s, blood transfusions spread the disease.


HIV affects the immune system and almost always leads to the AIDS virus. With the bodies immune system unable to fend off attacks, opportunistic infects of all sorts affect the person who has AIDS and even a common cold can be lethal, depending on the stage of the HIV disease. Blood transfusions, childbirth, needle sharing, and accidental needle pricks are the four leading ways to contract HIV.

Blood born pathogens

Blood born pathogens are killers. Until 1990, there were over 200 deaths and 9,000 cases of infection every year that could be directly contributed to improper handling of infected blood and materials in the United States alone. There is a massive training program to curb the number of workplace accidental blood borne pathogen exposure incidents. However, it still remains one of the most overwhelming medical expenses worldwide. The accidental contraction of Hepatitis C from an infected syringe is the number one cause for liver transplants. A liver transplant alone costs over one million dollars when you factor in doctors, hospitals, and lifelong medications. Blood born pathogens kill countless millions and are still a very real global threat.

Best Defense

The most important weapon anyone can have against becoming infected with blood borne pathogens is knowledge. Being aware of how blood borne pathogens are spread, not only in the workplace but in everyday life is a vital step in self protection. Everyone should learn what steps to take when placed in a dangerous situation where chance of infection could occur. The first rule is never to expose your self to blood. If you must handle anything that has blood on it, wear protective gloves and clothing. There are many training websites that can help a person learn the universal protection techniques involved in preventing the spread of blood borne pathogens. This training is usually free of charge, with the only charge being if you want the certification that you have passed the tests that are included with the training.

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