Blood-borne disease

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

Overview

A blood-borne disease is one that can be spread by contamination by blood. The most common examples are HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and viral haemorrhagic fevers.

Diseases that are not usually transmitted directly by blood contact, but rather by insect or other vector, are more usefully classified as vector-borne disease, even though the causative agent can be found in blood. Vector-borne diseases include West Nile virus and malaria.

Many blood-borne diseases can also be transmitted by other means.

Since it is difficult to determine what pathogens any given blood contains, and some blood-borne diseases are lethal, standard medical practice regards all blood (and any body fluid) as potentially infective. Blood and Body Fluid precautions are a type of infection control practice that seeks to minimize this sort of disease transmission.

Blood for blood transfusion is screened for many blood-borne diseases.

Needle exchanges are an attempt to reduce the spread of blood-borne diseases in intravenous drug users.

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