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William E. Prentice


When you finish this chapter you should be able to

  • Discuss how infectious diseases are transmitted from person to person.

  • Describe how the immune system neutralizes and eliminates an antigen that invades the body.

  • Explain what bloodborne pathogens are and how they can infect patients and athletic trainers.

  • Describe the transmission, symptoms, signs, and treatment of hepatitis B.

  • Describe the transmission, symptoms, signs, and treatment of hepatitis C.

  • Describe the transmission, symptoms, and signs of human immunodeficiency virus.

  • Explain how human immunodeficiency virus is most often transmitted.

  • List the pros and cons of athletes with hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, or human immunodeficiency virus participating in sports.

  • Evaluate universal precautions as mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and how they apply to the athletic trainer.


  • infectious diseases

  • pathogen

  • immune system

  • bloodborne pathogens

  • hepatitis B virus (HBV)

  • hepatitis C virus (HCV)

  • human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

  • acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)

  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

  • universal precautions


Like other health care providers, athletic trainers must be aware of and take universal precautions against the spread of infectious diseases and bloodborne pathogens.7,27 It has always been important for the athletic trainer as a health care provider to be concerned with maintaining an environment in the athletic training clinic that is as clean and sterile as possible.27 In our society, it has become critical for everyone to take measures to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.28 Failure to do so may predispose any individual to life-threatening situations. The athletic trainer must take every precaution to minimize the potential for exposure to blood or other infectious materials.58 The NATA official statement "Communicable and infectious diseases in secondary school sports" can be found at


Infectious diseases are the invasion or infection of a host (person or animal) by microorganisms called pathogens.33,42,44 A pathogen causes disease by either disrupting a vital body process or stimulating the immune system to mount a defensive reaction. An immune response against a pathogen, which can include a high fever, inflammation, and other damaging symptoms, can be more devastating than the direct damage caused by the pathogen itself.41 The most common pathogens are various bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi (Table 14–1).44 A microorganism can live harmlessly in a host (such as an animal) without causing infection. Over time, these hosts gradually become resistant to the microorganisms. However, when a microorganism is somehow transmitted from that animal host to a human, it may cease being harmless and become a pathogen in the new host. Infectious disease requires an agent and a mode of transmission, as is the case when a ...

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