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Are Dead Bodies A Biohazard?

Updated: Apr 12

Are Dead Bodies A Biohazard Graphic

Dead bodies release fluids as they decompose, exposing nearby people or animals to bloodborne pathogens carrying infectious diseases. These pathogens are what make dead bodies biohazards.

A biohazard is anything that carries pathogens and poses health risks to humans, animals, or the environment. Carried through various modes of transmission (fecal-oral, airborne, or bloodborne), they can cause chronic and acute illnesses.

Corpses pose a potential health hazard and should be handled by professional clean-up crews who have access to the equipment and procedural know-how to avoid any infectious disease risks.

Risks Posed By Dead Bodies: Highly Infectious Disease

There are only a few special cases where dead bodies pose a significant or substantial health risk, such as when the deceased are infected with cholera or hemorrhagic fevers.

Still, emergency workers handling dead bodies risk contracting certain infections. These include gastrointestinal infections (E. Coli, typhoid/paratyphoid fevers, shigellosis, rotavirus diarrhea, salmonellosis, cholera, and Hepatitis A), as well as tuberculosis, and bloodborne viruses (such as HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C).


A person handling dead bodies infected with Tuberculosis may contract the infection under certain conditions. If fluid or residual air from the lungs of the corpse is emitted and breathed in, anyone nearby may contract the virus. This is why rescue workers and professional biohazard technicians wear personal protective equipment covering their mouths and noses.

Bloodborne viruses: Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV

If blood or body fluid from an infected corpse makes direct contact with broken skin or a mucous membrane of a person, bloodborne viruses can be transmitted, such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV.

Mucous membranes are the inner lining of certain cavities or organs in the body (the mouth, nose, eyelids, trachea/windpipe and lungs, intestines, stomach, urethra, ureters, and urinary bladder).

Routine disinfection after this contact has occurred may be too late - the virus may have already entered the bloodstream. These viruses can also be transmitted through vomit or other biohazardous materials.

Gastrointestinal infections

If fecal material leaked from dead bodies gets into the environment's water supply or contaminates surfaces, there is a risk of fecal-oral transmission of gastrointestinal (GI) infections.

Fecal-oral transmission is when infected fecal matter reaches the mouth of a person who is susceptible to the infection, causing them to become infected.

When drinking water contaminated with infectious diseases is consumed, it poses a serious health risk to public health.

Is The Odor From A Dead Body A Biohazard?

You may be worried that the foul odor from a dead body can spread disease. While it is unpleasant, the smell itself is not a biohazard and poses no risk to people or animals.

What To Do When Someone Dies

Experiencing death first-hand is always stressful, sad, and traumatic. Whether it's someone you know and love or a total stranger, trying to figure out what to do next can often cause an enormous amount of anxiety. We're here to help.

The death of a loved one

When people die, whether it's at home or in public, you may not know what to do about the body. The best plan of action is to leave the body where it is and contact the authorities and your doctor, who may refer you to a medical examiner or coroner. You can also contact a funeral home.

If the deceased person is in a hospital or hospice, there may already be a plan in place, organized by the family or hospital. If not, it may be a good idea to have a professional take a look at the body.

Biohazard threats: Natural disasters, crime scenes, and mass graves

During a natural disaster situation, or at a crime scene or mass grave, it is vital to bring in professional assistance - police and biohazard clean-up specialists.

Not doing so can pose dire health risks to you and anyone you come into contact with. Answer any questions that rescue workers and police may have, and follow basic hygiene practices.

The rescue team management may also need to identify bodies and assist injured natural disaster victims - help them in any way you can, or clear the area.

Biohazard concerns at home: Let experts handle it

If you think a body may be infected with an airborne or bloodborne disease, it is best to bring in a team of biohazard clean-up specialists. There are also often instances of people not even knowing that they are infected, and their family and friends don't know either.

Chore-ology provides expert biohazard decontamination using specialized equipment and the correct cleaning supplies.

While you may be tempted to clean up a biohazard yourself, you might inadvertently put yourself and your family members at risk of harmful microbes. Professional teams can deal with post-death decontamination in a respectful, efficient, and safe way, leaving you with a calm and habitable space.

If you find yourself in this situation, avoid any extra stress and call Chore-ology to handle it.

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