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Is Vomit Considered A Biohazard?

Updated: May 29

Is Vomit Considered A Biohazard Graphic

Blood and bodily fluids, including vomit, are considered biohazards. They may contain harmful bacteria or hazardous pathogens like salmonella, typhoid, hepatitis, HIV, tuberculosis, and E. coli. These can spread when they are not cleaned properly. Vomit is classified as a situation that requires biohazard cleaning.

While dealing with vomit correctly might seem like an off-putting and challenging task, it's essential to protect your family members and community. We all need to play our part in disease control.

Read on for the universal precautions and instructions for cleaning up this biohazard.

How To Identify Biohazards

Biohazards can be found in, and spread through, blood and bodily fluids (such as vomit, feces, and saliva) that may contain viruses that are seriously harmful to human health.

These viruses sometimes have few (or confusing) symptoms and may be difficult to spot in many people - who may not even realize that they are infected. Vomit is particularly dangerous when it contains human blood, which is often unnoticeable.

Dangerous Infectious Diseases That May Be Present In Vomit

  • Hepatitis B is a viral infection that causes inflammation in the liver tissues. Beginning as an acute and usually short-lived infection, it can become a long-term chronic illness. This can lead to serious liver damage and possibly even liver failure. Like other chronic liver diseases, the infection can cause damage without presenting symptoms - so often people don’t realize they’re infected.

  • Hepatitis C is similar to Hepatitis B; however, there is no acute stage at the onset. Often the infected person does not have any noticeable symptoms until the liver is significantly damaged. Sometimes, people mistake these symptoms for flu, since they present similarly. The only way to know for sure is to get tested.

  • HIV is not found in vomit (or saliva, feces, nasal secretions, tears, or urine) unless these fluids are visibly contaminated with blood. Vomit itself does not transmit HIV. If someone is vomiting blood, and another person's mucous membrane or damaged tissue (open wound) comes into contact with that blood-containing vomit, that may present a risk of HIV.

Other viruses commonly spread through vomit

Norovirus is a very common and highly contagious virus that spreads easily through vomit. Norovirus causes gastroenteritis (commonly referred to as "stomach flu"). While it spreads quickly and easily, the illness usually only lasts up to three days.

How Do I Dispose Of Vomit Safely?

Vomit, along with feces and other body fluids, should always be treated as potentially infectious. Avoid direct contact as far as possible, and if you do touch it with your hands, wash them immediately. Timing is also important: always clean up vomit immediately, as germs multiply and spread rapidly.

Such situations require a clear head and a plan, outlined in our step-by-step guide.

Follow these steps for the most effective infection control:

  1. Isolate the area (i.e. don't let anyone in the room) for two hours - a virus can remain in the air for two hours after someone has thrown up.

  2. Gather some personal protective gear — disposable gloves, a mask, and a plastic apron or large trash bag to cover your clothes. Contaminated clothing and any other contaminated materials will present a risk of infection to you and those in the vicinity through direct or surface spreading.

  3. Get some paper towels, cardboard or paper plates, and plastic bags.

  4. Put on your personal protective equipment.

  5. Scrape up the vomit (or feces and other body fluids) onto the cardboard or paper plates.

  6. Dispose of this, along with any food and drink packaging within a 25-foot circumference of the vomit, into a plastic bag.

  7. Wipe up any remaining body fluids, feces, and vomit with disposable cloths that have been soaked in soapy water. Throw these away in a plastic bag immediately. Using clean cloths soaked in fresh water, wipe down the surface thoroughly.

  8. Using dry paper towels, wipe down the area and throw away all the dirty items in a disposable trash bag.

  9. Decontaminate or clean the area and all surfaces within a 25-foot radius using a bleach solution. Keep in mind that norovirus can be airborne.

  10. Let all surfaces dry for at least five minutes.

  11. Keeping your gloves on, throw away all personal protective equipment, cleaning cloths, sponges, etc.

  12. Wash your hands with soap and hot water while singing "Happy Birthday" slowly, twice. That should take around 20 seconds, which is the recommended length of time to wash your hands to remove germs. Hand washing is essential for disease control.

  13. Optional: Spray a powerful deodorization agent or air freshener in the room to relieve yourself, family members, guests, or colleagues from any unpleasant smells.

Note: Remind whoever is sick to wash their hands often and avoid direct physical contact with others.

Biohazard Decontamination

While you can clean up vomit and other biohazards by yourself using the method above, getting professionals like Chore-ology to do the job would certainly be safer and much less hassle. Let this expert team take care of your biohazard decontamination so you can go about your life without risking your health.

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