What are Blood Borne Pathogens?

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Bloodborne Pathogens are microorganisms, such as viruses, that are present in human blood and can cause disease in humans.  These pathogens can easily be transferred from one person to another if the circumstances are right and you cannot usually see that someone has them in their blood as they show no signs or symptoms.  These pathogens include, but are not limited to, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV, which stands for human immunodeficiency virus.  Remember Bloodborne Pathogens are not in everybody fluid but you must take care and therefore we always assume that they are in their blood to ensure safety.

When we refer to these bloodborne pathogens we are also talking about other bodily fluids, especially those visibly contaminated with blood as they have the potential to transmit disease.  

For example, some other fluids are:

  • Cerebrospinal fluid, which is the fluid that surrounds the brain; synovial fluid, this fluid lubricates joints
  • Pleural fluid, this is the fluid found in the Lungs
  • Amniotic fluid which is found in the Uterus surrounding a baby
  • Semen, vaginal secretions and urine can also transmit disease.

Diseases can also be transmitted through blood or any body fluid contaminated with blood together with anybody fluid that you cannot easily be recognised.  You should always assume that any of these fluids have potentially infectious material in them and handle them as if they can give you hepatitis B and C and HIV.  One of the primary ways of transmitting Bloodborne Pathogens is with Sexual contact. Other ways are when a contaminated sharp object cuts or punctures the skin, for example with a needle stick, the use of illegal drugs, and a cut from broken glass or a bite.  Or when an infected body fluid gets into an open cut or mucous membrane, which is found in the eyes, mouth, ears or nose and when a contaminated object touches inflamed skin, acne, or skin abrasion. 

Finally, Intact skin is an excellent first defence against disease, as Bloodborne Pathogens cannot “soak” through your skin. The problem is you never know if you have a small cut that could allow the infection to pass through.