The Top 6 Bloodborne Pathogens You Should Know to Protect Yourself‍

Hospital stays can be scary and stressful, especially if you have to go in for extended treatments. However, bloodborne pathogens are not something most people think about when staying in a hospital. 

The truth is that these microorganisms are prevalent even in hospitals. They’re difficult to catch and treat, but fortunately, there are ways to protect yourself from contracting these in the first place. 

We know that staying in the hospital for any time is never easy, especially as a patient recovering from an illness or injury. However, by arming yourself with knowledge about bloodborne pathogens, you can protect yourself from contracting them during your stay.

What Are Bloodborne Pathogens?

Bloodborne pathogens are any types of viruses or bacteria that are transmitted through the blood or bodily fluids. This can include but is not limited to HIV and Hepatitis B, or C. Bloodborne pathogens can be found in any bodily fluid that has blood in it, including, but not limited to, blood, semen, vaginal fluid, and breast milk. 

The good news is that most of the time, you cannot contract these diseases just by being in the same room as someone infected with them. However, they can be transmitted through contact with blood and bodily fluids. This means that even people who are not visibly sick can still pass these pathogens on to their loved ones. 

List of bloodborne pathogens are commonly spread at work, healthcare settings, and schools. They are also a risk for people with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, as blood glucose monitoring devices can be a transmission source.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a highly contagious viral infection of the liver. It’s estimated that about 1.4 million people in the United States have chronic Hepatitis B. The virus is transmitted through bodily fluids like blood, semen, or saliva. It’s most commonly spread through sexual contact but can also be transmitted through blood transfusions or contact with infected bodily fluids. 

Hepatitis B is usually asymptomatic and is usually discovered when people get tested for other health issues. However, in some cases, symptoms can include abdominal pain, fatigue, nausea, jaundice (yellowing of the skin), and joint pain. 

The good news is that there is a vaccine that has been proven to be effective against Hepatitis B. If you’re a healthcare worker or are at risk of contracting the virus, it is recommended that you receive the vaccine.

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is another virus that affects the liver. The virus is transmitted through contact with blood, such as during drug use or transfusions and sexual contact. The CDC reports that about 10% of people who contract hepatitis C develop a chronic infection, meaning that the virus stays in the body for a long time or even becomes lifelong. 

Although symptoms can occur for up to six months after contracting the virus, most people don’t experience any symptoms. Symptoms include fatigue, abdominal pain, and jaundice. There is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C, but medications are available to treat the infection.


HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, which is a virus that attacks the immune system. AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, resulting from an untreated HIV infection. 

Suppose a person is diagnosed with HIV and does not receive treatment. In that case, they will eventually develop AIDS, and their immune system will become so weak that they will develop other infections and illnesses that can lead to death. 

Infection rates are lower than in the 1980s when the first reports of HIV/AIDS cases were recorded, but an estimated 1.1 million people in the United States live with HIV. HIV/AIDS is spread through contact with bodily fluids like blood, semen, or vaginal fluids. It can also be transmitted from a mother to her child, though this is less common.


Rotavirus is the most common cause of diarrhea among babies and young children. Although it is not fatal, the virus can lead to dehydration in infants and children not old enough to be vaccinated. 

Rotavirus can be transmitted through contact with an infected person’s feces. This means that anyone who has diarrhea can spread the virus. Symptoms of rotavirus include diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal pain. 

Children between 2 and 8 most commonly contract the virus. There is no cure for rotavirus, but most cases are mild and only require rest and hydration. The virus usually goes away on its own after a few days.


Syphilis is a bacterial infection transmitted through contact with an infected individual’s bodily fluids. It can be transmitted during vaginal, anal, or oral sex and can also be contracted through sharing needles or contact with a pregnant woman’s bodily fluids. 

Although syphilis is curable, most people who contract it don’t know it and spread it to others. 

Most syphilis cases in the United States are reported in people between the ages of 15 and 45. Symptoms of syphilis will depend on the stage of the infection. If you have syphilis, you will usually experience a single, painful ulcer on the genitals, anus, or mouth.

Tb (tuberculosis)

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that attacks the lungs and is commonly spread through the air when an infected person coughs sneezes, or spits. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 10 million people are affected by TB every year, and about 1 million people in the United States have active TB. There are several types of TB, but the most dangerous is multidrug-resistant TB, which cannot be treated with common antibiotics. 

Although TB is less common in the United States, it is still a concern for people in close contact with others, such as healthcare workers, first responders, and teachers.


Bloodborne pathogens are a real threat to many people in various settings. One of the best ways to protect yourself from contracting these diseases is to wear gloves whenever you come into contact with blood or bodily fluids. 

Also, avoid large crowds and wash your hands thoroughly and often. If you end up in the hospital, ask your doctor if you should receive any vaccinations or medications to protect yourself from contracting any of the above bloodborne pathogens.


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