Hepatitis B Virus is a bloodborne pathogen that causes significant liver disease. It is passed through blood and bodily fluids. Unlike Hepatitis C Virus, there is a vaccine available for the protection of individuals. It is recommended that all health care workers obtain the Hepatitis B vaccine. However, if a health care worker is infected with the Hepatitis B virus, it is crucial that the individual take appropriate precautions for the management of the disease and for the protection of patients and fellow health care workers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2012), symptomatic cases of Hepatitis B infection must be reported to the local public health department. The public health community has made tremendous strides in the reduction of this disease. Between the early 1990s and 2009, cases have dropped a remarkable 85%. However, there is still a risk of infection. If a health care provider or a health care student is infected with the Hepatitis B virus, he or she should strictly adhere to the primary preventions methods of reducing the potential for transmission of the virus. This includes the use of gloves at all times when contacting patients or patient equipment. Additionally, if the equipment utilized on a patient is not able to be properly sterilized, the individual should utilize disposable equipment. All disposable equipment should be properly disposed of in a biohazard waste container (CDC, 2012).
Some protocols for infected workers and students have suggested that the infected individual must have a negligible viral load to be allowed actual patient contact. This can be obtained with proper management of the disease and the use of several medications. The CDC recognizes that there are no clear-cut guidelines for employing this method of transmission reduction. Obviously, it is easier to prevent a disease rather than treat it. For this reason, all healthcare workers should obtain the Hepatitis B vaccination.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012, July 6). Updated CDC recommendations for the management of Hepatitis B virus–infected health-care providers and students. Retrieved October 19, 2013, from: http://www.cdc.gov/