Bloodborne pathogens, BBP, can be transmitted when the blood or bodily fluids from one infected individual enters the body of another person. This transmission can occur via sharing of hypodermic needles, accidental punctures, abrasions, cuts, sexual contact, body secretions, saliva, and through mucous membranes as well. Using personal protective equipment, or PPE, is the best way to protect yourself from exposure to bloodborne pathogens.
PPE can be anything that covers any exposed skin or provides a protective shield between you and any potential pathogens. Examples of PPE are gloves, face masks, face shields, goggles, gowns, shoe coverings, head coverings or protective hats, and respirators. Various occupations, such as those that work in the medical field, will have access to more personal protective equipment than what the average person is able to get at a local pharmacy to help keep them safe at work. You should always take protective measures around blood or bodily fluids to prevent exposure to any microorganisms that could be carrying harmful bacteria. Proper and frequent hand washing is another way to protect yourself from illness causing bacteria.
PPE must be used correctly to be effective. Protective gear, such as gloves, must also be taken off properly to avoid transmittal of potential bloodborne pathogens. Protective gloves should be taken off differently than you would a pair of winter gloves. Protective latex gloves should be removed by peeling down from the wrist so that whatever pathogens are on the outside of the gloves will become encapsulated on the inside of the glove. If you have removed them correctly, the glove will be inside-out and will prevent others from coming into contact with any bacteria your glove was exposed to. Used gloves must be discarded immediately and never reused.
Surgical masks should not be reused. Moisture buildup from breathing while wearing them can cause bacteria to grow. Surgical masks are also not tight around the face. If you are in a situation where you have a potential exposure to a bloodborne pathogen and a face covering is needed, a face shield or respirator will provide you with more coverage than a loose fitting surgical mask.
These are just a few ways that you can protect yourself from bloodborne pathogens. If you work in the health or medical field, your employer will be able to provide you with the PPE, or personal protective equipment you will need to perform your job safely. If you want protective gear just to be proactive, there are a variety of options available to purchase at local pharmacies. Items like latex gloves and surgical masks can be purchased there as well.
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