Medical care activities can help save lives. But what about the by-products they generate? According to the World Health Organization, the following infections can occur when medical waste is improperly disposed of:
Parasitic infections – Used culture dishes are often disposed of by labs as medical waste. They contain parasites that can still thrive in the waste and cause infection.
Infection of Airway and Lungs – Medical waste can release airborne aerosols that may contain pathogens that can cause lung infections like the flu and pneumonia.
Skin Infection – Skin infections, like anthrax, can be contracted from medical waste.
Candida Infection – This is caused by the yeast Candida Albicans and often comes with prolonged hospital confinement. It can threaten the lives of the elderly, pregnant women, small children and people with weakened immune systems.
Meningitis – Medical waste may contain pathogens that can transmit meningitis – an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
Bacteremia – An infection where bacteria are present in the bloodsteam.
Infection of reproductive organs – Medical waste can be contaminated with genital secretions that may harbor pathogens that can cause sexually transmitted disease.
HIV, Hepatitis B and C viruses – These infections can be caused by puncture injuries from contaminated sharps.
Hemorrhagic fever - Ebola disease is transmitted by a virus that causes fevers and internal hemorrhaging. The virus can be present in medical waste.
For information on how to properly dispose of medical waste, download this informative guide from WHO here.