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Island County > Public Health > Community & Family Health > Bloodborne Pathogens Guidance

​Bloodborne Pathogens Guidance

Where do I go for help?  

Go to Whidbey General Hospital ER or, for Camano residents, to Skagit Regional Clinic - Camano for the initial evaluation and assistance. You will need to complete forms for workers' compensation if this is a work-related exposure. The claim form is available at WGH registration or in SRC's Camano clinic.
  • How do I know if I have had a bloodborne exposure?
  • Which substances might transmit bloodborne disease?
  • Which substances do not transit bloodborne disease?
  • What should I do?
  • Once exposed, will treatment prevent these diseases?
  • What drugs are recommended for prevention?
  • Should I take post-exposure preventive treatment?
  • What blood tests are required?
  • Will the 'Source' patient be tested?
  • How will I know that everything is OK?

How Do I Know if I Have Had a Bloodborne Exposure?

An exposure incident occurs when human blood or other potentially infectious materials enter your body by:
  • a splash to the eye, mouth, or other mucous membrane
  • contamination of non-intact (broken) skin
  • a puncture or cut with a sharp instrument      

Which Substances Might Transmit Bloodborne Disease?

  • blood or any body fluid or tissue containing blood
  • amniotic, cerebrospinal, pericardial, peritoneal, pleural, and synovial fluids
  • semen
  • vaginal secretions
  • human organs and unfixed tissues
  • breast milk  
 

Which Substances Do Not Transmit Bloodborne Disease?

  • feces
  • nasal secretions
  • sputum
  • sweat
  • tears
  • vomitus
  • urine
  • saliva (very low risk for transmitting hepatitis B, HIV)      

What Should I Do?

Provide immediate first aid:
  • Go to nearest sink and wash puncture or cut wounds.  Allow wounds to bleed.
  • Mechanical scrubbing with soap & water may prevent virus from entering tissues.
  • Washing eyes with water or normal saline will aid the tears in flushing the virus away. 
  • Mucous membranes of nose & mouth should be flushed with water if exposed to body substances.
  • Notify your supervisor or employer as soon as possible.        

Once Exposed, Will Treatment Prevent These Diseases?

  • Hepatitis B can be prevented by hepatitis B immune globulin & pre-exposure vaccine.
  • HIV may be prevented by taking post-exposure antiviral & inhibitor drugs ASAP.
  • Hepatitis C has no preventive therapy available      

What Drugs Are Recommended For Prevention?

  • Zidovudine (AZT) &
  • Lamivudine (3TC) Antiviral medications that may prevent HIV infection.    

Should I Take  Post-Exposure Preventive Treatment?

The doctor will prescribe PEP according to CDC guidelines. Three drugs will be recommended when:
  • the exposure source is known or at a high risk to be HIV infectious
  • the injury is a deep penetrating blood-contaminated cut or puncture where proper cleaning is not possible and the source status for HIV is unknown
  • when a large volume of blood has contacted non-intact skin or mucous membranes and the source status for HIV is unknown.
The PEP medications can be taken while awaiting more information on the source and discontinued later when the exposure risk has been fully defined.     
 

What Blood Tests Are Required?

  • Baseline testing for HIV, hepatitis C, and if hepatitis B vaccination has been completed, a test for immunity to Hepatitis B     
  • HIV tests are repeated at 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months from the date of injury. Hepatitis C tests are repeated at 6 months.      

Will the Source Patient Be Tested?

 
All source patients will be asked to consent to testing for HIV, HBV, and HCV at the time of exposure. The Health Officer (360) 914-0840 has authority if consent is refused.
   

How Will I Know That Everything is OK?

 
Make an appointment with your primary care provider for the laboratory results and for counseling during the follow-up period.  If you don't have a primary care provider, you may call one of the community clinics or call Island County Public Health at (360) 679-7351. Remember, if your baseline tests are unchanged at the 6-month follow-up, it is unlikely that your bloodborne exposure will result in an infectious disease.      

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