How Infections are Spread


For a disease to be transmitted all four of the following conditions must be met:

  1. An infectious agent pathogen is present
  2. There is enough of the pathogen to cause disease
  3. A person is susceptible to the pathogen
  4. The pathogen passes through the correct entry site


Think of these conditions as the pieces of a puzzle. All the pieces must be in place for the picture to be complete. If any of these pieces are missing the infection cannot occur.


Infectious agents enter the body in the following four ways:


  1. Direct contact: Occurs when a person touches body fluids from an infected person.


  1. Indirect contact: Occurs when a person touches objects that have touched the blood or body fluids (such as saliva or vomit) of an infected person. This includes soiled dressings or work surfaces.


  1. Airborne: Occurs when a person breathes in droplets that become airborne when a person coughs or sneezes.


  1. Vector-borne: Occurs when an animal, such as a dog or raccoon, or an insect, such as a tick transmits a pathogen into the body through a bite. A bite from an infected human is also considered a vector-borne transmission.



Germs are spread through physical contact or through the air from sneezing and coughing 


The Primary Modes of Disease Transmission are:

  • Broken skin
  • Contact with infected fluids (feces, vomit and saliva)
  • Contact with infectious fluids through mucous membranes of the eyes nose and mouth



An Important rule of thumb to prevent disease transmission is to consider that all clients are potentially infectious because you can never be sure who may be a carrier.







Airborne precautions:

To prevent spread through germs suspended in the air wearing a mask, eye wear and/or  face shield is advised.


Droplet precautions: 

To prevent spread through infectious germs contained in small droplets in a cough or sneeze, wearing a surgical mask can protect against transmission


Contact Precautions:

To prevent skin-to-skin or object-to-skin  transmission disposable gloves must be worn any time you may come in contact with blood and bodily fluids.



Disposable gloves MUST be discarded after use. Wash your hands immediately after removing the gloves. 


Don't forget.....

Once your gloves are contaminated they will contaminate anything they come in contact with.


Protecting yourself from Disease Transmission

Preventing disease transmission begins with maintaining good health and always practicing good hygiene, such as washing hands frequently.



Hand washing is the single most important protection against spreading infection!




It is critical that a personal care attendant understand the importance of proper hand washing. Washing your hands correctly and regularly will protect you and your clients from many infectious pathogens.


What to do if you are exposed to Infectious Disease:

  • Wash any area of contact immediately
  • Inform your supervisor
  • Complete an incident report