Transmission of Bloodborne Pathogens
Bloodborne pathogens are transmitted when contaminated blood or body fluids enter the body of another person. In the workplace setting, transmission is most likely to occur through:
- An accidental puncture by a sharp object, such as a needle, broken glass, or other "sharps", contaminated with the pathogen.
- Contact between broken or damaged skin and infected body fluids
- Contact between mucous membranes and infected body fluids.
Unbroken skin forms an impervious barrier against bloodborne pathogens. However, infected blood or body fluids can enter your system percutaneously through:
- Open sores
- Any sort of damaged or broken skin such as sunburn or blisters
Bloodborne pathogens can also be transmitted through the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, or mouth. For example, a splash of contaminated blood to your eye, nose, or mouth could result in transmission.
There are also many ways that bloodborne pathogens are not transmitted. For example, bloodborne pathogens are not transmitted by:
- touching an infected person
- coughing or sneezing
- using the same equipment, materials, toilets, water fountains or showers as an infected person.
It is important that you know which ways are viable means of transmission for the bloodborne pathogens in your workplace, and which are not.