First Responders' Guide to Bloodborne Pathogens

Bloodborne pathogens are infectious germs that are found in human blood. When a person gets infected with these germs, it can cause serious illness. Bloodborne pathogens can be spread through contact with infected blood or other body fluids of an infected person.

Bloodborne pathogens are infectious agents that can be transmitted through the exchange of blood or other bodily fluids. These pathogens include:

  • Viruses, like hepatitis B and hepatitis C
  • Bacteria, such as staphylococcus and streptococcus
  • Parasites (e.g., malaria)

Bloodborne pathogens can be found in many places--from hospitals to tattoo parlors to dentist's offices--and they can also be present on surfaces like bedding or clothing. Bloodborne pathogens cannot be seen with the naked eye; they must be detected through laboratory testing. Bloodborne Pathogens are transmitted via contact with infected blood or other bodily fluids from an infected person via needles/sharp objects (e.g., syringes), bites/scratches from animals infected with rabies virus, sexual intercourse without protection against HIV/AIDS

What are bloodborne pathogens?

Bloodborne pathogens are microorganisms that can cause disease in humans. These include:

  • Bacteria, such as staphylococcus and streptococcus.
  • Viruses, such as hepatitis B virus (HBV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV).

Bloodborne pathogens can be transmitted through contact with infected blood or other bodily fluids. They may also be transmitted through exposure to contaminated syringes or needles used on patients infected with these diseases. Exposure can occur when there is direct contact with an infected person's blood or body fluids; when there is indirect contact with contaminated objects, surfaces, or materials; during surgery; by sharing injection equipment used for illicit drug use; or through transfusion of unscreened blood products from donors who were not properly tested for infectious diseases before giving their donation.

How is exposure to bloodborne pathogens prevented?

The most effective way to prevent exposure is by following these guidelines:

  • Use personal protective equipment (PPE) when your work involves contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM). Examples of PPE include masks and gloves. If you don't have access to PPE, then consider using engineering controls such as installing ventilation systems in areas where you may be exposed to bloodborne pathogens.
  • Use work practice controls like hand hygiene before touching anything that could be contaminated with bloodborne pathogens, such as medical equipment or needles used for injections. It's also important not to touch surfaces that have been contaminated by someone else's blood without first washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water--this will help prevent the further spread of any germs present on those surfaces!
  • Prevent potential exposure by properly disposing of any items that might come into contact with OPIMs through proper cleaning procedures after each use (e.g., disinfectant wipes). You should also use an autoclave machine if possible - this kills all bacteria within 30 minutes at 121 degrees Celsius/250 degrees Fahrenheit while keeping everything sterile until disposal time arrives later down the road."

What should first responders do if they are exposed to dangerous material?

If you are exposed to a dangerous material, follow these steps:

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Wear personal protective equipment (PPE) appropriate for the situation.
  • Report any exposure incident immediately to your supervisor or other authority on-site such as an emergency medical technician (EMT) or firefighter. We recommend that first responders report all suspected or confirmed exposures within 24 hours of exposure; however, if symptoms develop later than this time frame then it is still important to seek medical attention as soon as possible so that proper treatment can begin early enough in order to prevent serious health complications later down the line.

First responders should also know how long they need their employer's permission before receiving post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). This will vary depending upon which state they live in since some states require employers' consent while others do not.


  • Clean up the area: If you are exposed, you need to clean up as much as possible. This includes wiping down equipment and tools with bleach or another disinfectant.
  • Wash hands: First responders should also wash their hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 15 seconds before eating or drinking anything, touching their face or eyes (unless they're wearing protective gloves), smoking cigarettes (because smoke can get into cuts on your fingers), coughing/sneezing into their hands (which could then contaminate surfaces around them), touching other people's skin or mucous membranes from an open wound on someone else's body--and doing anything else that could spread bloodborne pathogens between people.
  • Get medical attention if you think you have been exposed: If someone thinks they may have been exposed during an incident involving BHBPs, it is important that they seek immediate medical attention so doctors can evaluate whether there was any exposure and what type of treatment will be necessary.
  • This section should discuss relevant information for first responders to know about handling spills involving BHBPs.


First responders have a duty to protect the public from harm. This includes taking precautions against exposure to bloodborne pathogens, which can cause serious illness or even death in humans. If you are exposed to bloodborne pathogens, it is important that you follow these guidelines for first aid treatment as soon as possible.


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