You have someone else’s blood. So what now?

America is bleeding. We are suffering from an epidemic of gun violence that is becoming more tragic every day with mass shootings. Last year, car deaths increased by 10.5%. Even shark attacks are on the rise. But all is well; you are safe. You are not injured, or at least not seriously. But now, after all the confusion and confusion, you realize that you have blood – someone else’s blood. You should check it out.


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We’ve spent the last few years adjusting to a more hygienic new normal where we’ve come to realize that we’re at risk of breathing in each other. But we rarely think about its consequences bleeding to each other. This, of course, never crossed my mind until I suffered a traumatic head injury and stepped into the path of an elderly pedestrian. I waited with him for an ambulance and tried to cover his wounds with paper towels. While the paramedics arrived and he was on his way to the hospital, I showered in the restroom of a nearby restaurant. I came home, took a bath and washed my clothes. Then I called my doctor.

Although the risk of infection from superficial physical contact with blood is relatively low, this does not mean that they should be automatically eliminated when you feel relieved after an accident or abuse. The CDC estimates that 2.4 million to 4.7 million Americans are living with hepatitis C, and up to 2.2 million are living with hepatitis B. More than half of them do not know that they have conditions that can cause the disease to be mild or more serious. long-term symptoms. So, for all of us, health care professionals who think carefully about protocols for events like this need to know about the effects of blood. Being alert and prepared can be especially important when you don’t know the health status of the other people involved.

First, you need to know why you are not at risk.

“With regard to COVID-19, there is no risk of getting it through blood because that is not the transmission route for SARS-CoV-2. It is through respiratory/fluids,” explains Erica Susky, an infection control specialist. Toronto. But it’s not a bad idea to consider how close you are to others, how long you’re in the space, and how well ventilated you are.

“Blood-borne viruses (HIV, hepatitis B and C) can be transmitted through blood, but not through other bodily fluids (feces, vomit, nasal secretions, saliva, sputum, or tears),” Suski continues. “Infection can occur when infected blood comes into contact with intact skin, mucous membranes, and through the skin with a needle or sharp object. If the blood comes from an infected person, the amount of virus in the blood should be taken into account. , if the exposed person is immune (because hepatitis B vaccines present) and the amount of blood involved.” And Nancy Mitchell, a registered nurse and author of the Center for Assisted Living, notes that “while the most common blood-borne pathogens are HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C … there are more than 20 other blood-borne pathogens. .

Next, assess whether human blood has had access to your body. “If the blood comes into contact with a mucous membrane or a puncture in the skin, you should be concerned,” says Suski. Could blood get into a fresh cut or into your mouth or nose? Otherwise, you’re probably safe. “If it occurs with intact skin or other physical barriers, there should be no risk,” says Suski, such as clothing.

Regardless of the risk, the sooner and more thoroughly you wash, the better (assuming, of course, that you don’t need to preserve evidence of a crime). “It’s important to clean the area right away,” says Mitchell. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water and do the same for any exposed areas of your body. Wash your hands again after all the blood has been cleaned.’

Even though we were out and about, I didn’t notice any open sores when I was with the injured person, but I was later tested for HIV, hepatitis B and C, and COVID-19. I didn’t know him and I didn’t know about his health. There’s no downside to being careful, if I wash my hands before eating, I don’t want to know why I’ve exposed myself to a potentially serious infection? There are relatively simple and effective treatments for blood-borne conditions, but nothing will work if you don’t know you have it.

A difficult reality of life in America today is that some day a random accident or act of mass violence can directly affect your life. Even in the best-case scenario, if you walk away unscathed, you may experience unintended health consequences. It’s hard to think about, but it’s good to be prepared for it. And if we continue to shed blood, we must know what to do when some of the blood falls on us.

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