Bloodborne Pathogens Impact on Public Health

Bloodborne pathogens are germs that can be transmitted from person to person through direct contact with the blood or other bodily fluids of an infected person. This direct contact can happen when you share needles and other drug-injection equipment with someone who has a bloodborne disease, through sexual activity with an infected partner, or via accidental cuts or abrasions.

What are bloodborne pathogens?

Bloodborne pathogens are organisms that can cause disease. There are many different types of bloodborne pathogens: viruses, bacteria, and parasites. These organisms can be transmitted through the blood or other bodily fluids such as urine and feces.

Bloodborne pathogens are often found in bodily fluids such as blood and body fluids (e.g., saliva). They may be transmitted through direct contact with the contaminated blood of an infected person or by indirect contact with items (such as medical equipment) that have come into contact with infected blood or other bodily fluids. In healthcare settings like hospitals and clinics where there is a risk of exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM), workers should take precautions against becoming infected by these agents through accidental needle sticks; however, this does not mean that all healthcare workers will contract an infection from occupational exposure!

Why is it important to understand bloodborne pathogens?

A bloodborne pathogen is a microbe that can be transmitted from one person to another through contact with blood or other body fluids. The most common examples of these pathogens include hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and HIV.

Bloodborne pathogens pose a serious threat to public health because they can cause infection in people who come into contact with them, including healthcare workers, laboratory technicians, and first responders such as firefighters. In order to protect yourself from contracting an infection from a bloodborne pathogen you must know what signs and symptoms indicate that you have been exposed; how you can protect yourself from becoming infected; when you should seek medical attention; what precautions need to be taken at home and work after exposure has occurred; as well as how long does it take for symptoms of infection appear?

How do you get infected with a bloodborne pathogen?

You can get infected with a bloodborne pathogen by coming into contact with blood, body fluids, or other potentially harmful substances.

Contact with contaminated blood occurs at work when you are exposed to needles or sharp objects that have been used on patients who are infected with a bloodborne pathogen. The risk of infection also increases if you have an accidental needle stick injury while working.

Exposure to contaminated blood or body fluids from a person who is infected with a bloodborne pathogen may occur when:

  • You perform tasks such as cleaning up spills and handling medical waste without wearing appropriate protective equipment;
  • You work in healthcare settings where people may be exposed to blood-borne pathogens through needle sticks;
  • You work directly with live animals whose saliva may contain viruses that cause diseases like rabies;

What are the symptoms of an infection with a bloodborne pathogen?

The symptoms of infection with a bloodborne pathogen are fever, chills, fatigue, muscle aches, and pains; nausea or vomiting; diarrhea; joint pain, and headache. Although many of these symptoms can be caused by other conditions besides an infection with a bloodborne pathogen (for example influenza), they may also be signs of such an infection.

Bloodborne pathogens are organisms in the blood that can cause disease. They can be transmitted through contact with contaminated blood or other potentially infectious material (OPIM). Most commonly, these diseases are spread through needles or other sharp objects used during medical procedures such as injections or surgery on patients infected with HIV/AIDS.

When should you seek medical attention for any wound that may be contaminated with blood, body fluids, or other potentially harmful substances?

  • If the wound is deep, severe, or extensive.
  • If the wound is bleeding heavily.
  • If the skin around your injury looks red and inflamed. This could be an indication of cellulitis, an infection that can spread quickly if left untreated.
  • If your injury isn't healing properly after two weeks (or less). If you have concerns about a cut on your hand that doesn't seem to be healing well after several days of home treatment with antiseptic washes and bandages, contact your healthcare provider for advice about what else might help promote healing in this situation -- such as antibiotic creams or oral antibiotics from a pharmacy -- before seeking further evaluation at our office if needed.


  • Understanding bloodborne pathogens and their impact on public health is crucial to your safety.
  • You need to know the

    risks of bloodborne pathogens, and how you can avoid them.
  • You should take precautions when working with or around potentially infected material, including:
  • Using personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves and masks when appropriate; 
  • Washing hands before leaving the lab; 
  • Treating cuts with antiseptic before bandaging them;
  • Avoiding needle sticks by using sharps containers provided by your employer if available;

If these steps are not taken, there is a risk that an accident could occur causing an exposure event that could lead to infection by one or more of these diseases--which can be fatal unless treated quickly enough!


The study of bloodborne pathogens and their impact on public health is a complex field, with many factors to consider. It's important for healthcare workers and patients alike to understand the risks associated with these microorganisms so they can take steps toward prevention or treatment if necessary.


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