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Bloodborne Pathogens

Bloodborne pathogens are biological agents that cause human disease. Examples of bloodborne diseases include the following:

  • Hepatitis
  • Syphilis
  • Malaria
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

Two significant and deadly bloodborne diseases are hepatitis B virus (HBV) and HIV. These pathogens may be present in the following:

  • Human blood
  • Body fluids, such as saliva, semen, vaginal secretions, phlegm, and other body fluids visibly contaminated with blood
  • Unfixed human tissues or organs other than intact skin
  • HIV or HBV cultures
  • Blood, organs, or other tissues from experimental animals infected with HIV or HBV

Bloodborne pathogens may enter the body and infect you through a variety of means, including the following:

  • Accidental injury with a sharp object contaminated with infectious material.
  • Open cuts, nicks, and skin abrasions that come into contact with infectious materials. Other potential sites of transmission includes acne sores and the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, or eyes.
  • Unprotected sexual activity with someone who is infected with the disease.
  • Indirect transmission, such as touching a contaminated object and then transferring the pathogen to the mouth, eyes, nose, or open skin.

If you suspect you have been exposed to a bloodborne pathogen, report the incident to your supervisor immediately.