Blood-borne pathogens are microorganisms carried by human blood and other body fluids. The two most common blood-borne pathogens are Hepatitis B (HBV) and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

Hepatitis B (HVB)
There are approximately 500,000 new cases of HBV reported annually in the U.S.  HVB is a liver disease, initially resulting in possible inflammation of the liver, with complications often resulting in cirrhosis and cancer of the liver, both of which can result in death.  While there is no cure for Hepatitis B, a vaccine does exist that can prevent infection.  Symptoms of HBV infection often resemble flu symptoms.  They include:

  • Fatigue
  • Stomach Pain
  • Appetite Loss
  • Nausea
  • Yellowing Skin (Jaundice)
  • Darkening of Urine

After exposure it can take from two to six months for Hepatitis B to develop.  This is extremely important, since vaccinations begun immediately after exposure to the virus can often prevent infection.  Therefore, any employee who believes he or she has been exposed should always follow District worker compensation procedures for reporting an injury and follow up with a doctor to determine the need for vaccination.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
HIV is now widely known as the infection which causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and approximately 40,000 individuals contract this disease annually.  At this time, though treatment may extend life for up to several years after confirmation of AIDS infection, there is no cure.  AIDS must presently be considered a terminal illness.  AIDS  results in breaking down the body's natural defense mechanisms (the immune system) against illness.  Symptoms of HIV may not appear for up to several years after infection.  These symptoms may include:

  • Weakness
  • Fever
  • Sore Throat
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  •  Diarrhea
  • Other flu-like symptoms

How are they transmitted? 

HBV and HIV are transmitted by a transfer of blood or body fluids from an infected person to another person.  Transmission may occur in many ways including, but not limited to:

  • Blood Transfusion
  •  Needle Sticks
  • Absorption of infectious material (blood or other body fluids) into the body through broken skin.
  • Unprotected sex with an infected person.

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