Blood spills are more dangerous than you may realize. Depending on the size of the spill, they can carry hundreds of trillions of viruses, some of which may be infectious. Spread through open wounds, sores and other orifices (i.e. eyes, nose, mouth), these disease-carrying microorganisms—or pathogens—can cause severe illness or death if left untreated. Though the risk of infection depends on the volume of blood involved and the pervasiveness of the virus, it is prudent to consider how to protect yourself against different types of bloodborne viruses. Although they are easily preventable, contracting one demands urgency. As their name suggests, these pathogens travel through the bloodstream infecting host cells and disrupting the body’s biological machinery. As the virus multiplies, cells will die or function improperly, leading to distressing side effects. Here are some of the most common bloodborne infection you should be aware of:
Hepatitis A—Hepatitis A infects the liver. Though the virus commonly comes from food and water contaminated by feces, it can be transmitted through blood and other bodily fluids, such as semen, breast milk and saliva. It is extremely contagious, but given the availability of effective vaccines, most people are able to make a full recovery.
Hepatitis B—Hepatitis B is another highly contagious and severe liver infection that can be spread through blood and bodily fluids. Young people—particularly infants—are more at risk of developing a chronic infection than adults, which can lead to long-term side effects, liver failure and cancer. People infected with acute—or short-termed—hepatitis B are most likely to make a full recovery.
Hepatitis C— This viral liver infection is transmitted blood-to-blood and usually results in a chronic illness. Though hepatitis C is curable today, more than half of those infected are unaware that they have the disease. Unlike hepatitis A and B, there is no vaccine. Treatment involves 12 weeks of oral medication.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)—HIV destroys cells that combat infections. If untreated, it will progress until the infected person contracts AIDS—the final stage of the disease. Spread through unprotected sex, exposure to blood and shared hygiene instruments, HIV affects 1.1 million people today. An effective cure has yet to be developed.
How to protect yourself—The safest way to protect yourself from bloodborne pathogens is by avoiding blood spills and practicing safe, protected sex. Refrain from sharing razors, needles and toothbrushes as well, which may carry traces of blood from someone else. Smaller blood spills—such as those caused by nose bleeds or minor head injuries—can generally be disinfectd safely at home through tight gloves and protective eyewear.
But you’re going to want to contact the professionals for anything larger. Allowing trained specialists to do the work protects you from accidental blood exposure and ensures that your property is thoroughly disinfected. Bio-One hires certified technicians to comprehensively and efficiently clean biohazardous blood spills. Don’t hesitate to give us a call if you have any questions or concerns. We’re always available to assist you.