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University Health Services

Bloodborne Pathogens

Microorganisims present in human blood and other infectious materials that cause disease in humans.

The following information has been supplied by University Health Services, Environmental Health and Safety

Targeted Bloodborne Pathogens

  • Hepatitis B Virus
    In the general population, the incidence of Hepatitis B Virus infection ranges from 140,000-320,000 annually, 8,000 - 32,000 will become chronic infections.   5,000 - 6,000 deaths will result from chronic liver disease.   The virus can survive for 7+ days on surfaces. The good news is: The incidence of infection among health care workers has decreased from 12,000 in 1982 to 800 in 1996. This decrease can be attributed to: Widespread use of Hepatitis B vaccine and modification of high-risk factors, including work practices and procedures.
  • Hepatitis C Virus
    There is no vaccine available for Hepatitis C. The risk of acquiring an infection following exposure is 2-3%. In 1996, there were approximately 36,000 new hepatitis C Virus infections in the U.S. In more than 85% of infected persons, chronic infection will occur. 8,000 - 10,000 deaths occur annually. As of today, Hepatitis C Virus is the leading indicator for liver transplantation.
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus, HIV
    There is no vaccine available for Human Immunodefciency Virus, HIV. The risk of acquiring an infection following needlestick exposure is less than 1%. There have been 56 documented incidents of infection among health care workers following work-related exposures, and 138 infections where the exposure may be work-related.

Routes of Exposure

  • Needlesticks
    Needlesticks account for up to 80% of work-related exposures to bloodborne pathogens. An estimated 800,00 needlesticks occur annually. 16,000 of these are likely to be contaminated with HIV. More than 20 pathogens can be transmitted from needlesticks, including: syphilis, malaria, dengue, babesiosis, leptospirosis, Creutzfelt-Jacob disease, Colorado tick fever, and herpes.
  • Activities posing a needlestick exposure potential:
    Disposing of needles, administering injections, drawing blood, recapping needles, and handling trash and dirty laundry.
  • Mucous Membrane
    Splashes of blood and body fluids into the eyes, nose, and mouth are ways to be exposed to bloodborne pathogens. To  prevent these exposures, don safety glasses, goggles, and/or face shields when there is a potential for splashing and spraying.
  • Non-Intact Skin
    Bloodborne pathogens may enter the body through splashes of blood and body fluids onto non-intact skin. Prevention through the use of gloves and other protective clothing is recommended to avoid a serious and risky situation.

Prevention Measures

  • Hepatitis B Vaccine
    Available for FREE for all University of Cincinnati employees who have potential for exposure to human blood and body fluids.  Contact University Health Services (584-4457) for scheduling.  One month after the third injection, follow-up with University Health Services to ensure vaccination was effective.
  • Think: Universal Precautions
    All human blood and body fluids are treated as infectious for HIV, HBV, and other bloodborne pathogens.

Engineering Control Measures
Isolate or remove the hazard from the work place

  • Safer Needle Devices
    Provide a barrier between the hands and the needle after use. Allow or require the worker's hands to remain behind sharp at all times. Have safety features integral to the device itself rather than as accessories, they remain in effect to protect downstream workers, and require little or no training to use effectively.
  • Autoclaves
    Follow the requirements of Advisory 10.5 if autoclaves are used to treat infectious waste.
  • Guards and Barriers
    Any machine part, function, or process that may cause injury must be safeguarded. Guards are needed on cryostats and microtomes, belts and pulleys.

  • Biosafety Cabinets
    Biosafety cabinets must be certified at the time of installation, when moved, and at least annually.  The PI is responsible for initiating the annual certification.

Work Practice Controls
Alter the way task are performed.

  • Avoid recapping or removing needles.
  • Dispose of sharps.
  • Wash hands after removing gloves.
  • Minimize the potential for splashing and splattering.
  • Clean contaminated surfaces/equiptment.
  • Avoid mouth pipetting.
  • Avoid storing food and drink in refrigerators, or on bench tops.
  • Avoid eating, drinking, smoking, etc. in areas where there is potential for exposure.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
    Gloves, safety glasses, and a lab coat are minimum personal protective equipment. Remove your PPE and wash hands before leaving your work
  • Housekeeping and Spill Containment
    Advisory 10.2: Infectious Waste Spill Containment/Clean-Up ProceduresExpect spills involving blood and body fluid to occur. Prepare your spill kit before an incident occurs. Include Appendix E: Containment/Clean-Up
  • Infectious Waste Management
    Advisory 10.2: Management of Biological and Infectious Wastes
    Be prepared for site inspection, know disposal procedures and compile a spill kit. Complete a Biological Waste Disposal Label. On-line completion of the disposal label initiates a pick-up request, or call Environmental Health and Safety to request a pick-up. Users supply their own sharps containers, EH&S supplies disposal barrels and boxes.  Dispose of sharps wastes include, but not limited to, hypodermic needles, syringes, scalpel blades, and glass articles. Non-infectious sharps must be placed in puncture resistant containers and properly disposed.
  • Training
    Required prior to beginning an assignment where there is a potential for exposure, and at least annually. Supervisors are responsible for providing On-the Job training for their employees that is site-,equiptment-, and hazard-specific. Twelve computer-intregrated training's, including Bloodborne Pathogens, available at the Environmental Health and Safety office.  See EH&S website for details.