[Question #133] Exposure worry

37 months ago
Hi doctors. 

Have a rather odd question to ask. I guess if it were someone asking me I wouldn't think twice but for some reason I'm worried. 

Couple months ago I was at a comedy club. I must have got food poisoning and ran to the bathroom. I couldn't make it quite to the toilet and went for the first thing I saw and that was the feminine waste basket on the side of the bathroom door. I threw up/in the waste basket as well kind of on the side of it. Wasn't like I could directly place my face over the top since it was on the side of the door. After I threw up I started thinking if there was anyway I could have contracted an STD, herpes or anything in that category. Sometimes when we throw up there is muscouy spit. I don't recall anything splashing in my face. I am worried - what if there was a used tampon in the box or a pad? Could my spit have touched anything and not broken off and contaminated me? Trying to think logically but I'd rather have my answer come from an expert. Dr. Hook and Dr. Hansfield I know you have had your fair share of questions as well as Terri. 

Thank you for your time. 
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
37 months ago
I'm not sure who you would like to answer this question but I'm absolutely certain, 100% certain, that we all would answer this in exactly the same way - there is absolutely no risk of any STD from your experience in the restroom waste basket.  Let's say there was a tampon in the basket.  We don't know that for sure, right?  Well, if there was, the odds are that it was not from a person with herpes.  Let's take it the next step - let's say the tampon was used by a person with genital herpes.  The main site of viral shedding in women is the labia, not the cervix or vagina.  But let's take it another step and say that this person was shedding virus from the cervix.  So viral shedding happens on about 13% of days out of the year,  on average.  Now let's take it a step further.  Let's say this woman happened to be shedding virus from her cervix at the moment she was using the tampon.  Virus dies very rapidly when off the human body AND the tampon is likely to absorb virus that might be present as it is carried in cervical secretions.  So let's say the worst case scenario - it was from a woman who happened to have herpes who happened to be shedding virus who happened to be shedding virus from her cervix who just happened to have come into the restroom right before you were there vomiting.  I don't know about you, but if I throw up and have some mucous that had not broken off coming from my mouth, I don't suck it back into my mouth, do you?? I spit it out again!  What a yucky topic!  My point is, even if you put together all of these really remote statistical probabilities, the spit isn't going to be coming back into your mouth and there is just no way you are going to get infected with an STD.  The same scenarios that I described certainly apply to all other STDs.  I'm sure you get the picture here.  You are certainly NOT at risk from this experience. 

Terri
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37 months ago
Thank you Terri for the in depth response. Very reassuring. I guess I just went over the top with thinking. I don't believe I sucked up any residual spit...I just thought what if some spit strand touched something and did break off and hit my lips.  im assuming a test isn't necessary? (Have been tested in the past, clean bill of health). And for future knowledge and reference (if this isn't asking another question of range) is there a known time frame in which the herpes virus dies outside of the body? 
37 months ago
*didnt break off
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
37 months ago
Yes, Jenna, I think whatever is going on STD wise has nothing to do with your experience in the bathroom. The information about how long herpes lives off the body is all over the place, nothing really reliable.  Short message is you don't need to worry about that question. 
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