If you are an emergency medical provider, you are constantly in contact with many different situations, people, places and conditions. As a medical provider your responsibility is to help people who may be hurt or sick. It is impossible to know immediately all of the risks or dangers at any given scene. This is why it is important to understand all of the potential ways diseases can be transmitted. Having this knowledge can help you prevent spreading on contracting a disease in any given situation. This may be something you want to look into before heading down the EMT or Paramedic career path.
Contact: Diseases are easily spread through contact. There are two types of contact- direct or indirect. Direct contact allows for the direct transfer of a pathogen from an infected person to a susceptible host. Some examples of direct contact include sexual contact with an infected person or contact with the excretions of a person who may have an open sore. Indirect contact is when a susceptible host comes into contact with something that may have been contaminated. For example: intravenous needles, toys, eating utensils and glasses, bedding, wound dressings.
Air: Coughing, sneezing, and talking can transmit pathogens into the air.
Vehicles: This does not refer to your car. A “vehicle” is an inanimate object is able to transmit a pathogen from an infected person to a susceptible hose. Examples of some vehicles include liquids like, blood or water and food that has been improperly handled or stored.
Vectors: A vector is an insect that can transmit a pathogen to an animal or human that it may sting. Mosquitos are common vectors for malaria. Other common vectors include fleas, ticks and lice.
Other methods: Disease can also be transmitted from consuming contaminated animal products or through direct contact with animal urine or feces.