Can I catch a disease from doing CPR?

You know what CPR is and you understand why it is so important, but the big question on everyone’s mind these days is whether or not they can actually contract an illness while performing this lifesaving procedure. This concern is one of the reasons that many people fail to become involved in life saving procedures, and quite a few CPR certified individuals simply stand on the sidelines watching the scene unfold. It sounds horrible, but thanks to the spread of misinformation and the lack of reliable data online, it is no surprise that so many people tend to stay out of it. Here’s the big question: are lives being lost simply because of misinformation? We would dare to say yes. 

Does Disease Really Spread through Mouth to Mouth Contact?

Let’s go back in time for a minute, to the 80’s, actually. Do you remember when HIV and other STD’s first came to light? This is precisely when people started to feel concerned about CPR and as I was growing up, I seem to remember my parents saying something along the lines of: “Never give CPR to someone you don’t know” right after I earned my certification through a school sponsored course. 

There are some bacteria that might transfer during the course of CPR which include Hepatitis C, but contracting a disease through mouth to mouth contact? There hasn’t really been any evidence to support this theory, not by any means. 

Protecting Yourself

There are a few things that you can do to protect on the off chance that you actually are in danger during the course of CPR, one of which is to know the patient’s medical history. If you are giving CPR to someone you know there is a good chance you know precisely where they have been and what kind of people they usually come in contact with. This makes it pretty easy to guess at what you’re dealing with, so you can take heart in that. The second way to protect yourself would be to use a face shield with a one-way valve and gloves (also referred to as personal protective equipment) to ensure you aren’t dealing with bacteria or other items that could be detrimental to you. 

Assessing the Threat

So now it comes down to this very important question: can you really catch a disease from mouth to mouth contact? The short answer is obviously going to be no, but the other short answer is: protect yourself. Just because something has not yet happened does not mean it cannot happen, and your chances are actually increased if you have an open wound or a sore in the area that makes contact. That being said, always be wary, but don’t worry too much about it. When in doubt, get yourself checked after the fact.

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