‘Control of Hospital Infection’ 4th ed. defines bloodborne virus infection as:
‘Where the blood contains infectious agents that can be transferred into the body of another person giving rise to infection’ (1).
Bloodborne viruses can pose an important risk to healthcare workers. The biggest risks lies with contracting HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C (2). These particular infections have the ability to cause asymptomatic and symptomatic infections.
The biggest risk in the hospital is the exposure to blood borne viruses. In the UK alone, there are approximately over 50,000 incidents per year(3)
Different examples of blood borne viruses will be discussed, including their epidemiology, transmission, and infection prevention and control measures. The guidelines used in a clinical setting in relation to blood borne viruses will also be outlined.
Guidelines used in the Irish clinical setting:
EMI Toolkit - Guidelines for the Emergency Management of Injuries (including needlestick and sharps injuries, sexual exposure and human bites) where there is a risk of transmission of bloodborne viruses and other infectious diseases (2012) (Available in HPSC website, http://www.hpsc.ie/hpsc/A-Z/EMIToolkit/EMIToolkit.pdf Date Accessed: 26/02/2014).
Bloodborne viruses in haemodialysis, CAPD and renal transplantation setting, 2013 (Available in HPSC website http://www.hpsc.ie/hpsc/A-Z/Hepatitis/BloodborneVirus/File,4374,en.pdf Date Accessed: 28/02/2014).
Hepatitis B Virus (HBV)
Referred to as the Dane particle, the Hepatitis B virus is a double stranded Hepadnavirus (1). Particle diameter up to 45nm (4).It has an incubation of about 40 to 160 days(2) and can be detected in the blood, semen and vaginal secretions and also in saliva (2). A person is said to be infected with hep B if HBSAg is present. Hep B can be much more infectious if the e antigen is present.
Hepatitis C Virus (HCV)
In 1989, Hep C was first identified, and was previously referred to as post transfusion non A, and non B hepatitis(1, 2). Although it is estimated that HCV is up to 2000 years old! (5) . Incubation is typically up to 26 weeks(1).
Hep C is the number one cause for liver disease in the world (6) and kills 476,000 patients each year (7). Therapy to control Hep C includes a combination of ribavirin and pegylated interferon (PEG-IFN) (7). Vaccine trials are under research at the present moment, with four in phase II of clinical trials (e.g. GI-5005 and ChonVac-C) (7).
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
Around since the second world war (8), it is a retrovirus that has the ability to transcribe its RNA into a copy of DNA in the host cell (1). It can take up to 6 months for the presence of HIV – specific antibodies to become detectable (2) however, throughout this period the HIV antigen and RNA can be detected in the blood (2).
It has an incubation period from months to years (1). Symptoms may sometimes be present, such as influenza...