At first glance, you might think this subject does not apply to me.
If you work in the health and beauty sector in any way then think again. In fact, it seems that healthcare alone is the biggest employer in the U.S. With an aging population, the numbers employed in this industry is only going to increase.
Even if you don’t work in healthcare or beauty right now, that could well change in the future. There could be at least a hundred or so different types of jobs within the medical/healthcare field that you could end up working in.
The fact is, that if you work in this industry now, or will do so in the future, you will be at an increased risk of contracting a serious disease from bloodborne pathogens.
What are bloodborne pathogens? Consider this article an investment in your essential education.
Bloodborne Disease – Basic Facts
There are hundreds of bloodborne diseases. Here are some details of a few that represent the greatest risk.
Hepatitis B Virus (HBV)
This the most common serious liver infection in the world. This disease attacks the cells within the liver cause scarring and impaired function. It can also lead to cancer.
If you get this disease you may be able to fight it off but it will take many months. About 1 in every 10 people will be left with a chronic condition that needs ongoing management and care. The statistics are higher in children and babies. In fact, in babies, only 1 in 10 will fully recover.
In the U.S as many as 100,000 people will become infected in one year alone. This disease is highly infectious being 100 times more contagious than HIV.
Hepatitis C Virus (HCV)
This is another disease that will attack your liver. The body can fight it off in many cases. However, as many as 3 in 10 will be left with a chronic disease that will need ongoing care.
The key difference between HBV and HCV is due to how the disease is transmitted. HBV is transmitted through certain bodily fluids and blood, whereas HCV is through blood to blood transmission.
The scary part of HCV is that as many as half the people with the disease may not know they have it and theta they are highly infectious. This is one of the reasons why healthcare workers are at higher risk.
HIV – Human Immunodeficiency Virus
This is a terrifying disease. It is possibly one of the most well known by its name. HIV is the virus that can progress to AIDS. The virus systematically attacks the bodies natural defenses against other diseases.
As the immune system goes into free-fall the person will contract many other diseases and may also end up with cancer. HIV is also a risk during drug addiction when needles are shared.
What Are Bloodborne Pathogens?
They are disease carrying molecules that enter your bloodstream and carry a destructive payload to wherever they go. In many cases they are viruses but they can be bacterial in nature.
Bloodborne pathogens are micro-organisms or what is referred to as germs. They can come into contact with your body in a multitude of ways. A needle stick injury is an example. If the needle is infected it will pass the germs into your body.
Other ways in which these pathogens can enter the body involving needles is through the use of infected tattoo needles. Don’t think this is the result of blatant negligence and disregard for others.
Sometimes it is not the needles that are infected but the ink itself. On other occasions it can be that the equipment was cleaned, only it wasn’t cleaned as it should have been.
Education – How Important?
If you are an employer or employee, the answer to this question is the same. Education is extremely important. It is true that accidents happen and that healthcare workers are occupational at risk more than other industries.
However, education is vital in combating the needless spread of disease through bloodborne pathogens. Many employers require their staff to get certified so that they can prove they have received the education they need.
Here is a helpful site that will explain how certification works and how you can it.
Bloodborne Pathogens – Some Good News
This article may seem a little grim with the prospect of catching an infectious disease but there is also good news that will put the smile back onto your face. Many bloodborne pathogens can be immunized.
Despite the fact that Hepatitis B is highly infectious it can be immunized. It is interesting to note that the preparation of the vaccine does not have to come from blood products. If it does, some worry about other infectious diseases being transmitted in the vaccine itself.
However, it is reassuring that in the case of Hepatitis B vaccine it can be prepared from recombinant yeast cultures so there is no risk of other bloodborne disease being transmitted at the same time. Obviously, before you get vaccinated, make sure you know exactly what it is you are getting.
If you are a health worker you will want to make sure you are following occupational health guidelines are fully vaccinated and up to date at all times.
Bloodborne Disease – Final Point
In this article, you have read about what are bloodborne pathogens. you do not need to be afraid. Even though these diseases are infectious, if you continue to educate yourself and take the needed precautions you will be fine.
If you want to read more beneficial health articles, check out our health blog here.