Blood Borne Pathogens
Barbara Johnson

Session #1       Blood borne Pathogen Review

There are several diseases that are caused by blood borne pathogens (BBP's). While many BBP's are fairly exotic and you may never encounter them, a few BBP's are fairly common and present a risk to you if you come in direct contact with potentially infectious materials such as human blood and certain body fluids.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recognized that health care workers and others, who may in contact with human blood or blood associated materials (Other Potentially Infectious Materials or OPIM for short) has recognized this occupational hazard and created the "Blood borne Pathogen Standard".

This standard has served as the basis for implementing policies and practices to minimize your risk of exposure to BBP's, specifically to Hepatitis B virus (HBV), Hepatitis C virus and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). These policies and practices, if followed, are an effective means to reducing your risk of exposure to other pathogens as well.

Blood and Other Potentially Infectious Materials (OPIMs)

HIV and HBV may be found not only in human blood, but also in other potentially infectious materials including the following body fluids:

  • blood products (such as plasma or serum)
  • semen
  • vaginal secretions
  • cerebrospinal fluid
  • pleural fluid (or lung fluid)
  • synovial fluid (or fluid from your joints)
  • amniotic fluid (or uterine fluid)
  • peritoneal fluid (or fluid that fills your body cavity)
  • saliva in dental settings
  • any body fluid that is visibly contaminated with blood
  • any body fluid that you can't tell what it is

Other items found in the clinical or laboratory setting are also considered to be other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) and they include:

  • any unfixed tissue or organ, other than intact skin, from a living or dead person
  • cell or tissue cultures that may contain blood borne pathogens as outlined in LBNL's Exposure Control Plan
  • organ cultures and culture medium or other solutions that may contain HIV or HBV blood from experimental animals infected with HIV,
  • HBV or other BBPs.

It is a required practice to use Universal Precautions when handling these body fluids and materials.

The following body fluids are not expected to be infectious sources of blood borne pathogens unless they are visibly contaminated with blood:

  • urine
  • feces
  • vomit
  • tears
  • sweat
  • sputum
  • nasal secretions

Although these body fluids do not currently require universal precautions, good personal hygiene practices are highly recommended when handling these materials.