10 Common Hospital-acquired Infections

The hepatitis C virus attacks hepatocytes in the liver. © Carol & Mike Werner/Visuals Unlimited/Corbis

Bacteria cause many of the hospital-acquired infections we've discussed, but viruses pose worthy foes in hospitals, too. Whenever someone comes to a hospital infected with a virus, there's a chance that virus can spread to other patients. Many of the measures for preventing bacterial infections also work against viruses: hand-washing, sterile equipment and surfaces, and properly designed heat and ventilation systems.

Every virus has its own method of transmission though, which presents its own difficulties. For example, Ebola and HIV are spread through contact with bodily fluids, something hospital workers may encounter a lot. Meanwhile, hepatitis C spreads through contaminated blood. Ever flexible, hospitals have to develop and follow safety procedures for each possible virus, including the use of protective equipment, proper handling of needles, proper storage and handling of blood. They also have to limit the number of people who have contact with a patient to those necessary for care [source: CDC].