Officer & Drivers Safety (Lesson 5 of 25)
This training module is designed to provide a basic understanding of bloodborne pathogens, common modes of their transmission, methods of prevention, and other pertinent information.
If you can reasonably anticipate facing contact with blood and/or other potentially infectious materials as part of your job duties, you should receive additional training from your instructor or supervisor including an opportunity for interactive questions and answers
Bloodborne pathogens are microorganisms such as viruses or bacteria that are carried in blood and can cause disease in people. There are many different bloodborne pathogens including malaria, syphilis, and brucellosis, but Hepatitis B (HBV) and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) are the two diseases specifically addressed by the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard.
While this module will focus primarily on HBV and HIV, it is important to know which bloodborne pathogens (from humans or animals) you may be exposed to at work, especially in laboratories.
Hepatitis B (HBV)
In the United States, approximately 300,000 people are infected with HBV annually. Of these cases, small percentages are fatal.
“Hepatitis” means “inflammation of the liver,” and, as its name implies, Hepatitis B is a virus that infects the liver. While there are several different types of Hepatitis, Hepatitis B is transmitted primarily through “blood to blood” contact. Hepatitis B initially causes inflammation of the liver, but it can lead to more serious conditions such as cirrhosis and liver cancer.
There is no “cure” or specific treatment for HBV, but many people who contract the disease will develop antibodies, which help them get over the infection and protect them from getting it again. It is important to note, however, that there are different kinds of hepatitis, so infection with HBV will not stop someone from getting another type.
The Hepatitis B virus is very durable, and it can survive in dried blood for up to seven days. For this reason, this virus is the primary concern for employees such as housekeepers, custodians, laundry personnel and other employees who may come in contact with blood or potentially infectious materials in a non first-aid or medical care situation.
The symptoms of HBV are very much like a mild “flu”. Initially there is a sense of fatigue, possible stomach pain, loss of appetite, and even nausea. As the disease continues to develop, jaundice (a distinct yellowing of the skin and eyes), and a darkened urine will often occur. However, people who are infected with HBV will often show no symptoms for some time. After exposure it can take 1-9 months before symptoms become noticeable. Loss of appetite and stomach pain, for example, commonly appears within 1-3 months, but can occur as soon as 2 weeks or as long as 6-9 months after infection.