[Question #1996] Saliva Exposure

46 months ago
I work in an environment where I take saliva samples. While closing the tube, a very small speck of saliva landed on my cheek. I immediately wiped the area with water -- flushed the area with water 3 or 4 times, actually. 

The patient had no active lesions, and there is nothing to worry about in the medical record, as far as I could tell. 

Although, I am less concerned about contracting HIV or hepatitis, I was wondering what the chance of transmission of herpes was, because you are more likely to contract HSV1 via saliva than those diseases, I think?

I am a bit concerned because shortly after this exposure, I developed soreness in one of my armpits and a cold. Could be unrelated, but I thought I'd mention it. 
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
46 months ago
Thanks for visiting our forum to get correct information about herpes transmission.  Many people are under the impression that herpes is very easy to transmit but it actually isn't.  It needs a break in the skin or a mucous membrane to get into the body as well as a rather large volume of virus to infect another.  And then it needs something to rub it into the body.  Your experience with the saliva doesn't provide any of these opportunities.  I'm assuming the skin on your cheek was intact and you describe a very small speck of saliva as well - and no active lesions on the person who contributed the saliva. 

There is zero risk of you acquiring herpes from this encounter.  Any soreness in your armpits or a cold has nothing at all to do with this encounter.
Please let me  know if you have other questions.

Terri
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46 months ago
Background about me: I am negative for HSV1 and HSV2, according to my IGg tests taken some time ago. I have dermatitis on my face, that is healing -- I do not have any cuts or open sores, but I do wear a barrier lotion. Also, this exposure happened on 4/10.


Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
46 months ago
I think there is just no risk for you here. 
The other thing to keep in mind is that the IgG test misses 30% of HSV 1 infections, compared to the gold standard western blot so your test is useful but not definitive

Terri
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46 months ago
Thanks for your responses. I really appreciate it. 

I guess I should take a chill pill, because I have been so worried about this.

I have been telling myself that that the incident is sort of akin to people getting spittle on you when they talk, and that has happened to me numerous times, and no HSV1 has come from that, and that has happened with people I know have HSV1.

I'll ask my doctor about the western blot. Thanks for the advice.
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
46 months ago
You are most welcome.  The only way to get the herpes western blot is to order a kit directly from the University of Washington, then have your doctor draw, spin and ship your blood. 
Take that chill pill and remove this from your worry list - you're just fine.  Thanks so much for visiting us with your questions.

Terri
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