Contagious Disease

Police officers will frequently come into contact with contagious disease. It comes with the job and there is no way to avoid it.

As an officer, you will be dealing with the homeless, drug addicts, and other individuals who may be prone to be carrying some form of contagious disease. Every time that you are in close contact with someone, you put your self at risk.

There are two scenarios that come up from time to time. One is the ever so exciting "needle prick".

This sometimes happens when officers search a suspect's pockets without wearing any protective gloves.

You can imagine how awful it would feel to be searching some heroin addict and getting poked with a needle, looking down at your finger and seeing blood quietly trickling from your skin. Imagine hearing Mr. Addict announce: "I have AIDS". It's probably not going to be a good day for either one of you.

To avoid that, you should wear a pair of protective gloves. Your department may issue you a pair, but if they don't you can buy a pair from a Security/Police equipment store.

These protective gloves are made with leather and have a special lining to help protect against sharp objects. They aren't "puncture proof" so to speak, but for a search on a suspect they will do the trick.

The other scenario is the oh so pleasant "spit in the face".

Remember, (just focusing on the HIV virus for a moment) HIV is transferable through bodily fluids, but is not believed to be transferable through saliva.

BUT, if there is a cut in the suspect's mouth and some blood gets into the saliva you're at risk.

If someone spits in your face and it gets into your eyes or mouth, there are mucous membranes which the blood in the saliva can travel through and enter your system.

Plus, there are other diseases such hepatitis, new strains of flu (Avian etc) and a host of other contagious diseases. Plus it's just gross.

How do you protect yourself from this? I really can't say. Unless someone indicates to you verbally or through really exaggerated motions that they intend to spit on you, you won't know it until it happens. And by then it could be too late.

If they do indicate that they will spit, place a mask on their mouth after you have them cuffed and in custody. It's not a bad idea to carry a few in your cruiser while working. (The mask I'm referring to is like a surgical mask which covers the mouth, not a Michael Myers or Winnie the Pooh Halloween costume. Of course, that could be more fun...)

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