Contact with Blood or Body Fluids: Protecting against Infection (2023)

Blood and body fluids, such as saliva, semen and vaginal fluid, can contain viruses that can be passed on to other people. If you have contact with a person’s blood or body fluids you could be at risk of HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C, or other blood borne illnesses. Body fluids, such as sweat, tears, vomit or urine may contain and pass on these viruses when blood is present in the fluid, but the risk is low.

(Video) Designated Officers - Section 3 - Infection Prevention and Control - Blood/Body Fluid Spills

What should I do if I come into contact with blood or body fluids?

If you come into contact with blood or body fluids, always treat them as potentially infectious. If you prick yourself with a used needle, hold the affected limb down low to get it to bleed. Do not squeeze the wound or soak it in bleach. Wash the area with warm water and soap.

If you are splashed with blood or body fluids and your skin has an open wound, healing sore, or scratch, wash the area well with soap and water. If you are splashed in the eyes, nose or mouth, rinse well with water. If you have been bitten, wash the wound with soap and water.

If you are sexually assaulted, go to the hospital emergency department as soon as possible. Reporting the incident immediately after a sexual assault can help to ensure that as much evidence as possible is obtained. For more information about sexual assault and to learn what support services are available, visit JusticeBC at

If you have come into contact with blood or body fluids in any of the ways described above, you may need treatment (such as a vaccine or medication) as soon as possible to protect against infection. It is important that you are assessed as soon as possible after the contact.

What will happen at the emergency department?

You will be asked to give informed consent in order for your blood to be tested for HIV, hepatitis B and C. Your treatment will be determined based on the type of exposure to blood or body fluids and your test results. The health care provider may also try to determine whether the person’s blood or body fluid with which you had contact may be infectious for HIV, hepatitis B and C.

(Video) Cleaning a Blood Body Fluid Spill

In case of possible exposure to HIV, the health care provider may start you on a course of antiviral medications without waiting for test results. These medications should be started as soon as possible, and are most effective if started within 2 hours of exposure. You will be referred to your own health care provider if you need to continue taking these medications for 1 full month.

To help protect you from hepatitis B disease, you may be given a hepatitis B vaccine and hepatitis B immune globulin. Hepatitis B immune globulin contains antibodies that provide immediate but short-term protection against hepatitis B virus. The hepatitis B vaccine provides long lasting protection by helping your body make its own antibodies against the virus.

There is no vaccine to prevent infection with hepatitis C. Blood tests will show if you were exposed to hepatitis C or have acquired the virus.

If you have a serious cut or wound you may need to get the tetanus vaccine depending upon the type of wound and your immunization history.

To find out if you have acquired an infection as a result of the incident, you will need follow-up blood tests at 3 and 6 weeks and then at 3 months after the exposure.

(Video) Blood & body fluids, 9

What is the risk of getting HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C?

The risk of getting HIV, hepatitis B or C depends on the amount of virus in the blood or body fluid and the type of contact. For example, a piercing through the skin poses a greater risk than a splash on the skin.

The emergency department health care provider will tell you whether your exposure puts you at risk of these infections.

How do I prevent the spread of infection to others?

Sometimes it is not possible to know for a few months if you have acquired an infection after an exposure to blood or body fluids. If you have, you can potentially transmit the infection to others. While you are waiting for your test results, follow these steps to help prevent spreading the infection to others:

  • Do not have sex (vaginal, oral or rectal). If you have sex, use a male or female condom every time. For information on preventing STIs, see HealthLinkBC File #08o Preventing Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).
  • Do not donate blood, plasma, organs, breast milk, tissue, or sperm.
  • Do not share toothbrushes, dental floss, razors, or other items that may have blood or body fluids on them.
  • Cover open cuts and scratches until they heal.
  • Carefully throw away anything with blood on it, such as tampons, pads, tissues, dental floss, and bandages. Put sharp items such as used razors or needles into a container and tape shut. Throw away in the garbage – do not place in a recycling box.
  • Do not share drug snorting, smoking or injection equipment such as needles and syringes, straws and pipes.

Women who are breastfeeding and have been exposed to blood or body fluids should speak with their health care provider to find out if it is recommended that they continue to breastfeed.

If you become pregnant, see your health care provider or call the Oak Tree Clinic at BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre at 604-875-2212 or toll-free in B.C. at 1-888-711-3030.

(Video) Safe Management of Blood and Body Fluid Spillages HD

How can I safely clean a spill or a wound?

When cleaning spills, wear clean, disposable gloves and always use absorbent material, such as paper towels, first. Then clean the area of the spill more thoroughly with soap and water, and then disinfect it with household bleach. A fresh solution of bleach should be used for disinfecting and can be prepared by mixing 1 part of bleach to 9 parts of water. The bleach solution should be left in contact with the spill area for at least 10 minutes before wiping it up.

Wear gloves when handling any body fluids or cleaning cuts, scrapes or wounds. Wash your hands carefully after disposing of your gloves in a plastic bag. Add gloves to your first aid kit so you are prepared.

How do I protect myself and others?

Teach children to never touch used needles, syringes or condoms, and to tell an adult immediately if they find one. It is important to dispose of a used condom, needle or syringe quickly and carefully. Always wear clean disposable gloves or use tongs, pliers or another object to pick up used condoms, needles and syringes. Discard condoms in a plastic bag. Needles and syringes should be placed in a metal or plastic container with a puncture-proof lid and disposed of in the regular garbage or according to local by-laws. Always discard used gloves in a plastic bag and wash your hands carefully with warm water and soap. If the item used to remove the condom, needle or syringe is not disposable it should be disinfected with bleach.

Hand washing is the best way to prevent the spread of germs. Wash your hands carefully with soap and warm water for at least 15 to 20 seconds. Waterless alcohol-based hand rinses can be used as long as hands are not heavily soiled.

Wash your hands before and/or after the following activities:

(Video) Safety Tip: Bloodborne Pathogens Protection

  • before preparing food and after handling uncooked foods;
  • before eating or smoking;
  • before breastfeeding;
  • before and after providing first aid;
  • before and after providing care to a person;
  • after using the toilet or changing diapers;
  • after handling blood or body fluids; and
  • after coughing or sneezing.

For more information, see the following:

  • HealthLinkBC File #08m HIV and HIV Tests
  • HealthLinkBC File #18a Tetanus and Diphtheria (Td) Vaccine
  • HealthLinkBC File #25a Hepatitis B Vaccine
  • HealthLinkBC File #40a Hepatitis C Virus Infection
  • HealthLinkBC File #85 Hand Washing for Parents and Children


Why is it important to protect yourself from contact with blood and body fluids? ›

What are blood and body fluid precautions? Blood and body fluid precautions are recommendations designed to prevent the transmission of HIV, hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and other diseases while giving first aid or other health care that includes contact with body fluids or blood.

What should you do if you come into contact with blood or bodily fluids? ›

Wash your hands immediately after any exposure to blood or body fluids, even if you wear gloves. Flush with water if you get splashed in the eyes, nose, or mouth. Contact your doctor right away for further advice if you are pricked by a needle (needlestick).

How can you avoid contact with blood and other body fluids and still give care to a person? ›

For universal precautions, protective barriers reduce the risk of exposure to blood, body fluids containing visible blood, and other fluids to which universal precautions apply. Examples of protective barriers include gloves, gowns, masks, and protective eyewear.

What kind of hazard is blood and body fluids? ›

Accidental exposures to bodily fluids present a wide variety of issues to healthcare workers. These issues include transmission of communicable diseases such as human immune deficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV).

Should blood and body fluids be treated as infectious? ›

Items contaminated with blood or any body fluids stained with blood should be disinfected promptly and then the affected area cleaned (see table below) to reduce the risk of infection to other people. Appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) should be worn and standard infection control precautions followed.

What should be used to protect yourself when the potential for exposure to blood or body fluids exists? ›

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Always wear PPE (e.g. gloves, eye protection) when there is a potential for exposure to blood or body fluids. This is proven to be the single most effective precaution to avoid exposure. PPE should be readily accessible.

What is the first thing that an employee should do if exposed to blood? ›

Flush splashes to nose, mouth, or skin with water. Irrigate eyes with clean water, saline, or sterile wash. Report all exposures promptly to ensure that you receive appropriate followup care.

What is the first thing you should do if you are exposed to bloodborne pathogens? ›

Wash exposed skin, cuts, and needlestick injuries thoroughly with soap and water. If you have been splashed by potentially infectious fluids around the eyes, nose or mouth, flush the area with water. Immediately report the incident to emergency medical services.

What is the first thing you should do if you are exposed to blood or other potentially infectious body fluids through an injury? ›

If you are stuck by a needle or other sharp or get blood or other potentially infectious materials in your eyes, nose, mouth, or on broken skin, immediately flood the exposed area with water and clean any wound with soap and water or a skin disinfectant if available.

What four 4 steps should be followed to manage spills of blood or body fluid? ›

During: Clean up blood and other body fluids spills with disposable paper towels/tissues or by using a Biohazard Spill Kit. Remove any broken glass or sharp material with forceps or tongs and place in sharps container. Use hospital grade disinfectant (use 5ml of bleach to 500ml of water) to sanitise the area.

How do you handle blood and body fluids spill in the lab? ›

Spots or drops of blood or other small spills (up to 10 cm) can easily be managed by wiping the area immediately with paper towels, and then cleaning with warm water and detergent, followed by rinsing and drying the area.

What are 3 pathogens spread by blood and body fluids? ›

The pathogens of primary concern are the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV). Workers and employers should take advantage of available engineering controls and work practices to prevent exposure to blood and other body fluids.

What is the risk after body fluid exposure? ›

After exposure, there is a risk you may become infected with germs. These may include: Hepatitis B or C virus (causes liver infection) HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

What are the three most common diseases carried by blood or body fluids? ›

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV) are three of the most common bloodborne pathogens from which health care workers are at risk.

Can you get infected by touching blood? ›

FEBRUARY 2019 Page 2 Page 3 1 INFECTIONS SUCH AS HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), hepatitis B and hepatitis C can be spread to you (the Exposed) if you come in contact with the blood or body fluid of an infected person (the Source).

Can body fluids cause infection? ›

Blood and body fluids, such as saliva, semen and vaginal fluid, can contain viruses that can be passed on to other people. If you have contact with a person's blood or body fluids you could be at risk of HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C, or other blood borne illnesses.

What means treating blood and body fluids as if they are infected? ›

T F Universal Precautions/Body Substance Isolation means treating the blood and body fluids of anyone aged 18-65 as if, they were known to be infected with HIV/HBV.

What is one of OSHA's recommendations when coming in contact with bodily fluids skin or blood? ›

Employers shall ensure that employees wash hands and any other skin with soap and water, or flush mucous membranes with water immediately or as soon as feasible following contact of such body areas with blood or other potentially infectious materials.

What type of precautions should be observed to prevent contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials? ›

The Bloodborne Pathogens standard (29 CFR 1910.1030) and CDC's recommended standard precautions both include personal protective equipment, such as gloves, gowns, masks, eye protection (e.g., goggles), and face shields, to protect workers from exposure to infectious diseases.

What should be done with materials that have been contaminated with blood or other bodily fluids? ›

Disposal. All used absorbent powders, contaminated disposable PPE and heavily soiled clothing, bedding or soft furnishings should be placed in biohazard or clinical waste bags. These should not be mixed with your regular waste.

What should you do if you have been in contact with an injured person's blood? ›

If there has been any contact with blood or any other body fluids, wash your hands or any blood splashed on the skin thoroughly with soap and water as soon as possible after the incident. If you are concerned about a possible risk of infection, obtain advice from your doctor as soon as possible.

How do you handle blood in the workplace? ›

Put on disposable gloves. Wipe up the spill as much as possible with paper towel or other absorbent material. Gently pour bleach solution – 1 part bleach to 9 parts water – onto all contaminated areas. Let bleach solution remain on contaminated area for 20 minutes and then wipe up remaining bleach solution.

When should you report blood exposure? ›

The OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard requires medical follow-up for workers who have an exposure incident. Exposures should be reported within 1 hour if possible to allow for prompt intervention to reduce the risk of infection. Follow the protocol of your employer.

How can you prevent your patients from being infected by a bloodborne pathogen? ›

Wear disposable gloves whenever providing care, particularly if you may come into contact ■ with blood or body fluids. Also wear protective coverings, such as a mask, eyewear and a gown, if blood or other body fluids can splash.

What are three general prevention methods for exposure to bloodborne pathogens? ›

Wear appropriate PPE for tasks and procedures in which occupational exposure may occur. Use and activate safety devices when handling needles and lancets. Dispose of infectious waste properly. Notify their supervisors immediately after they experience an exposure.

Which one of these human body fluids is most likely to transmit a bloodborne pathogen? ›

Blood. This includes exposure to blood through needlesticks and sharps injuries, as well as skin and mucous membrane exposure.

What are the standard precautions for blood and body fluids? ›

Wear protective clothing that covers skin and personal clothing during procedures or activities where contact with blood, saliva, or OPIM is anticipated. Wear mouth, nose, and eye protection during procedures that are likely to generate splashes or spattering of blood or other body fluids.

What are the 5 steps to safely manage a blood and body fluid spillage? ›

Where there is risk of splash, wear face protection. Absorb the spill using paper towels. Remove paper towels and discard into clinical waste bag. Disinfect area using prepared Haz Tab 1,000 ppm/Peracide • Discard the mop into clinical waste bag.

What precautions should be taken when dealing with blood? ›

Blood Specimens - Safety
  • Wear personal protective equipment such as safety glasses, gloves, laboratory coats.
  • If you have cuts or abrasions on the skin of your hands, cover them with adhesive dressing.
  • Use needles and lancets only once, and dispose of them in a “sharps” container for decontamination.

What are 3 basic standard precautions when dealing with blood? ›

Standard precautions consist of the following practices:
  • hand hygiene before and after all patient contact.
  • the use of personal protective equipment, which may include gloves, impermeable gowns, plastic aprons, masks, face shields and eye protection.
  • the safe use and disposal of sharps.
Oct 24, 2021

What are five things you should do if you spill a bodily fluid within the workplace? ›

Clean up as soon as possible • Confine and contain the spill • Wear utility gloves and other PPE appropriate to the task • Clean with neutral detergent • Risk assess need for disinfectant • Discard any contaminated waste into clinical waste stream.

What is the proper way to clean up body fluids such as blood OSHA? ›

OSHA requires the use of a tuberculocidal disinfectant to clean up blood or body fluids. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

What should be your first response if you are exposed to blood or body fluids? ›

Flush splashes to the nose, mouth, or skin with water. Irrigate eyes with clean water, saline, or sterile irrigants. Report the incident to your supervisor or the person in your practice responsible for managing exposures.

What precautions should you take to avoid contact with a person's body fluids? ›

Always wash your hands thoroughly as soon as possible after and where possible, before giving first aid. Dispose of any waste from the first aid appropriately. If you come into direct contact with a person's body fluids while giving first aid, wash the exposed area and seek medical advice as soon as possible.

What is the procedure to deal with a fluid spill? ›

Notify your Occupant Emergency Coordinator. If safe and applicable, surround the spill with absorbent material to minimize spreading. Remove any contaminated shoes and clothing and leave them in the contaminated area. Leave the room and close the doors.

What parts of your body can infectious body fluids enter through? ›

Microorganisms capable of causing disease—or pathogens—usually enter our bodies through the eyes, mouth, nose, or urogenital openings, or through wounds or bites that breach the skin barrier.

What 3 viruses can be spread in the blood? ›

Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV are the 3 main blood borne viruses (BBVs). They are transmitted through: Exposure (of broken skin, mucous membranes or blood) to infected blood and body fluids, for example during: treatment using reused or non sterile medical, dental or surgical equipment.

What are the 3 main diseases caused by exposure to body fluids? ›

The pathogens of primary concern are the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV). Workers and employers should take advantage of available engineering controls and work practices to prevent exposure to blood and other body fluids.

What diseases are spread through bodily fluids? ›

Spread through blood or other body fluids
  • hepatitis B - blood, saliva, semen and vaginal fluids.
  • hepatitis C - blood.
  • human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection - blood, semen and vaginal fluids, breastmilk.
  • cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection - saliva, semen and vaginal fluids, urine, etc.
  • glandular fever - saliva.

Are all blood and body fluids infectious? ›

Body Fluids to Which Universal Precautions Do Not Apply

Universal precautions do not apply to feces, nasal secretions, sputum, sweat, tears, urine, and vomitus unless they contain visible blood. The risk of transmission of HIV and HBV from these fluids and materials is extremely low or nonexistent.

Are all blood and body fluids treated as infectious? ›

Follow standard precautions to help prevent the spread of bloodborne pathogens and other diseases whenever there is a risk of exposure to blood or other body fluids. These precautions require that all blood and other body fluids be treated as if they are infectious.

Why is it important to protect yourself from bloodborne pathogens? ›

Bloodborne pathogens, such as bacteria and viruses, are present in blood and body fluids and can cause disease in humans. The bloodborne pathogens of primary concern are hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.

Why is bodily fluids hazardous? ›

Body fluids are a source of infectious micro-organisms, including bacteria and viruses, some of which are extremely harmful and/or incurable, such as Hepatitis B & C and HIV. Needles and other sharps also need to be handled with care for this reason.

Why is it important to regulate body fluids? ›

Fluids are crucial for a healthy heart, and maintaining the proper water balance is crucial for maintaining a good blood pressure level. Dehydration lowers cardiac output, which can cause the heart rate to rise and blood pressure to drop.

What is the most important way to prevent the spread of pathogens? ›

Wash your hands well

Washing hands properly is one of the most important and effective ways of stopping the spread of infections and illnesses.

What is the best way to protect yourself from pathogens? ›

Learn these healthy habits to protect yourself from disease and prevent germs and infectious diseases from spreading.
  1. Handle & Prepare Food Safely. ...
  2. Wash Hands Often. ...
  3. Clean & Disinfect Commonly Used Surfaces. ...
  4. Cough & Sneeze Into Your Sleeve. ...
  5. Don't Share Personal Items. ...
  6. Get Vaccinated. ...
  7. Avoid Touching Wild Animals.

When should blood or body fluid exposures should be reported? ›

Requirements: Blood and body fluid exposures are to be reported as they occur during the calendar year.

What are some examples of body fluids you should avoid contact with? ›

Other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) means: (1) The following human body fluids: semen, vaginal secretions, cerebrospinal fluid, synovial fluid, pleural fluid, pericardial fluid, peritoneal fluid, amniotic fluid, saliva in dental procedures, any body fluid that is visibly contaminated with blood, and all body ...

What are the two most common body fluids found at a crime scene? ›

Peripheral blood, menstrual blood, semen, saliva and vaginal secretions are the five most common body fluids found at crime scenes, and the identification of these five body fluids is of great significance to the reconstruction of a crime scene and resolution of the case.

What is blood and body fluid exposure? ›

Occupational exposure to blood and body fluids (BBFs) is a serious concern for health care workers (HCWs) and presents a major risk factor for transmission of infectious diseases such as hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus, and human immune deficiency virus.

What is the most important fluid and very essential for the body and most body functions? ›

Water is essential to most bodily functions. The body has no way to store water and needs fresh supplies every day. The best source of fluids is fresh tap water.

What is the control of body fluids? ›

Mammals control the volume and osmolality of their body fluids from stimuli that arise from both the intracellular and extracellular fluid compartments. These stimuli are sensed by two kinds of receptors: osmoreceptor-Na+ receptors and volume or pressure receptors.

What process helps regulate body fluids? ›

The lymphatic system helps maintain fluid balance in the body by collecting excess fluid and particulate matter from tissues and depositing them in the bloodstream. It also helps defend the body against infection by supplying disease-fighting cells called lymphocytes.


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