At times, a person responding to a first-aid situation faces significant quantities of blood and other body fluids. Many first-aiders become concerned about the possibility of becoming infected with the hepatitis B or AIDS virus in such situations.
Here are some facts about hepatitis B and AIDS:-Infection with the hepatitis B virus causes serious liver disease and appears to be associated with liver cancer. Unlike the AIDS virus, the hepatitis B virus is very infectious. Some researchers believe that a single drop of virus-containing blood introduced into the bloodstream of a healthy person can result in infection.
-AIDS is a universally fatal disease that cripples the immune system, leaving the victim susceptible to illnesses the body can usually fight off, such as pneumonia, meningitis and a cancer called Kaposi's sarcoma. AIDS is a dangerous contagious disease. Hard data proves transmission via shared needles; acupuncture needles; homosexual and heterosexual sex; prostitutes; and at birth from an infected mother, among other routes. Presently, there is no cure for AIDS.
In any situation involving body fluids, there is a small, but real, risk of infection. Following specific precautions can greatly minimize the risk of infection.
Use these precautions whenever giving first aid:
-Keep open wounds covered with dressings to prevent both the victim and first-aid giver from coming in contact with each other's blood.
-Have a few pair of disposable gloves in all first-aid kits. Use these gloves in every situation where there is blood or other body fluids.
-If gloves are not available, use the most waterproof material available to form a barrier between body fluids and the skin. For example, a plastic bag forms a good barrier between your hand and a bloody dressing.
-Use pocket masks for protection when doing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. These should also be in every first aid kit. While saliva is not considered a high risk, there may be blood in the mouth.
During clean-up use these precautions:
-Wash up in hot, soapy water. Really scrub the skin.
-Wash all clothing and other items that have blood or other body fluids on them in hot, soapy water.
-Clean reusable items with a solution of one part liquid chlorine bleach to nine parts of water and rinse well.
Much concern has recently been raised about the risk to the first aid giver of contracting infectious B or AIDS by participating in cardiopulmonary resuscitation training. The American Heart Association, American Red Cross and the Centers for Disease Control say the risk of transmission of any infectious disease by manikin practice appears to be minimal to negligible. In fact, while an estimated 40 million people in the United States have been taught mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on manikins in the past 25 years, there has never been a documented case of transmission of bacterial, fungal or viral disease by a CPR training manikin.
The three above agencies have recommendations for cleaning and maintaining manikins and should be followed by CPR instructors.