How to Stop the Spread of Infectious Diseases
Bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites are organisms that cause diseases to spread or become infectious. Some of these diseases can be transmitted by a person or an animal. Workers are vulnerable to various kinds of infectious diseases including airborne, blood-borne, contact, and zoonotic diseases. Knowing how to stop the spread of infectious diseases should be a part of your workplace safety arsenal.
Airborne diseases can be transmitted by an infected person as they cough, sneeze, or speak. One gets infected when they breathe in air that contains droplets of pathogens. The following are some of the most common airborne diseases:
- Anthrax (inhalational)
- Chickenpox (varicella)
Diseases transmitted through contact with infected blood and other body fluids are called blood-borne diseases. Common blood-borne diseases include:
- Viral hemorrhagic fever
- Hepatitis B and C
Having direct or indirect contact with bacteria, parasites, or viruses can cause transmission of contact diseases. Direct contact involves having physical contact with an infected person, their blood, or bodily fluids. Indirect contact can include touching an object infected by a sick person. Some common contact diseases include:
- Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
- Pediculosis (head lice)
A disease transmitted between animals and people is a zoonotic disease. The ways people acquire this type of disease include direct contact, indirect contact, vector-borne, and food-borne. Direct contact is when one has physical contact with an infected animal or its bodily fluids. Indirect contact is getting infected through areas where the animal roams or lives, or through infected surfaces. Vector-borne is a disease transmitted by a mosquito, tick, or flea. And lastly, food-borne is transmitted by eating contaminated food. Common zoonotic diseases are:
- Ebola virus
- Avian flu
How to Reduce the Risks
Employers must protect their workers from infectious diseases by implementing an exposure control plan that everyone must follow.
Many zoonotic diseases can be prevented through vaccination.
Washing Hands Frequently
- Before and after visiting a patient’s room
- Before eating, drinking, handling contact lenses, and applying makeup
- After using the toilet
- After possible exposure to body fluids
Handling Sharps Properly
For use and disposal of sharps, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Cleaning and Disinfecting Spills
Follow specific procedures for containing spills of bodily fluids.
Using Personal Protective Equipment
Workers should be trained to know which type of PPE to use and how to properly use it. PPE examples include:
- Foot covers
Practicing Cough Etiquette
Always cover your mouth when coughing. Instead of using your hand, you can either cough into your sleeve or a tissue paper, then wash your hands afterward.
Staying Home If You are Sick
If you have a fever, diarrhea, or nausea, it’s best to stay home.
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