Infectious Diseases – Signs and Symptoms – Precautions – Immunization

Upon completion of this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Define Infectious disease.
  • Describe the two means of transmission of infectious diseases.
  • List eight signs and symptoms of infectious disease.
  • Define Body Substance Isolation (BSI) and list three categories of body substance isolation precautions.
  • List five components of the personal protective equipment (PPE) used during patient assessment and pre-hospital treatment.
    List recommended immunization for MFR.

Best ways of Infection Control Management of Infectious Diseases

1. Infectious Diseases

Infectious diseases are illnesses caused by pathogens, microorganisms such as bacteria or viruses that can be transmitted.


  1. Direct Contact occurs through contact with bodily fluids, contact through open wounds or exposed tissues, or contact with mucous membranes of the mouth, eyes or nose.
  2. Indirect Contact, through airborne pathogens spread by tiny droplets sprayed during breathing, coughing or sneezing, or by way of contaminated objects, such as needles.


As a medical first Responder, you can be exposed to infectious diseases whenever you treat a patient. Although there are many infectious diseases, three that are of greatest concern because they are life-threatening are:

  1. Ebola
  3. Tuberculosis

Other diseases you may be exposed to:

  • Smallpox
  • Measles
  • SARS
  • Diphtheria
  • Whooping cough
  • Flu
  • Rubella
  • Mumps
  • Chicken pox

2. Signs and Symptoms

Patients contaminated with an infectious disease may not present with signs or symptoms. A major source of infectious transmission is the “chronic carrier”. Such a person can carry an infection for years without signs or symptoms.

When signs and symptoms of infectious disease do appear, they may include:

  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Coughing

3. Body Substance Isolation (BSI)

Definition: A strict form of infection control based on the premise that blood and other bodily fluids are infectious.

Body substance isolation consists of a combination of equipment and procedures that protect you from the blood and other bodily fluids of the patient. With BSI precautions, it is possible to take care of patients safely, including those with infectious diseases. BSI precautions fall under three categories:

  1. Hand-washing: The single most important thing you can do to prevent the spread of infection (even if wearing gloves).
  2. Cleaning equipment: Cleaning, disinfecting, and sterilizing are related terms. Cleaning is simply washing an object with soap and water. Disinfecting is cleaning plus using a chemical like alcohol or bleach to kill most of the pathogens. Sterilizing is a process in which a chemical or other process (such as superheated steam) is used to kill all microorganisms on the object.
  3. Using personal protective equipment (PPE): You must always use PPE to protect against infection. This will keep you from coming into contact with bodily fluids. PPE includes eye protection, gloves, gown and mask.


  •  Always discard contaminated items properly.
  • Your safety and the safety of others is a risk from cross-contamination.

All body fluids are considered infectious and appropriate precautions must be taken for all patients at all times!!

4. Immunization

The following immunizations are recommended for active duty MFR’s:

  • Tetanus prophylaxis (every 10 years)
  • Hepatitis-A Vaccine
  • Hepatitis-B Vaccine
  • Influenza vaccine (every year)
  • Polio
  • Rubella (German measles)
  • Measles
  • Mumps

Though there is no current immunization for tuberculosis, you should be checked for exposure to the disease yearly. Consult your local protocols for immunizations.

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5. Reporting Exposures

Report any suspected exposure to blood or bodily fluids to your supervisor as soon as possible. Include in your report the date and time of exposure, type of bodily fluids involved, the amount, and details of the incident. All agencies should have a written policy in place to handle exposures to infectious body substances.

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