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Global Occupational Health$
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Tee L. Guidotti

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195380002

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195380002.001.0001

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Biological Hazards at Work

Biological Hazards at Work

(p.189) 10 Biological Hazards at Work
Global Occupational Health

Gregory Chan

Chung Tsing

David Koh

Oxford University Press

Biological hazards include bacteria, viruses, and parasites and other organisms for which exposure can cause occupational disease, usually infections. Such organisms are called pathogens. Other biological hazards include organisms, such as fungi, and material of biological origin, such as enzymes used in detergents, that may induce allergies. They are known as allergens. Occupational infections are diseases in which a pathogen present in the workplace enters the body and then grows or replicates, causing a disease. The disease itself may be the result of the infection itself (such as pneumonia), toxins produced by the pathogen (as is the case with tetanus), the result of damage done by the pathogen (as in hepatitis) or the result of the body's defenses against the pathogen (as in tuberculosis). Some infections can be transmitted from one person to another and are said to be transmissible, or “contagious”. The principal strategy for preventing occupational infections is primary prevention, taking measures to avoid contact with the pathogen in the first place. Pathogens from animal sources are called zoonoses. When direct contact with the pathogen is unavoidable, immunization is the primary means of prevention. Particular problems for healthcare workers include hepatitis, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. After exposure has taken place, treatment in advance of infection in order to prevent disease is called prophylaxis.

Keywords:   biological hazards, infections, pathogens, allergens, occupational infections, transmissable infections, primary prevention, zoonoses, immunization, prophylaxis

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