[Question #2058] hep c

45 months ago
I was using the phone at the hospital when I noticed the same finger I picked my nose I  used  to dial. and I freaked out and picked some of the dirt and junk off one of the numbers of the phone. I'm pretty sure I wiped the finger I used but then wrapped gauze around that same finger to clean that nostril. like an idiot I put on a clean pair of gloves to clean out any gunk in that nostril. I was cleaning my nose so much it bleed a little light l]pink blood. Can I  get hep c from this. I hope a piece of the old grime on that phone didn't log in my nostril made contack with the blood and caused an infection, I should have stopped the second I shoved my finger in my nose but continued to try to clean any or if dirt. Hope it didn't have any pathogen in it.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
45 months ago
Welcome back to the Forum.  I note that it has been a year since your last question.  I hope all is well.  The events you describe did not put you at risk for HIV, hepatitis or any other blood borne pathogen.  These infections are harder to transmit than people would suspect and there are no known reports on which HIV or hepatitis virus have been transmitted by transfer from a contaminated telephone or other inanimate object to a person.  In the past there have been concerns about transmission of hepatitis C when a straw used to snort cocaine was shared immediately from persons with and without HIV but your event (I would not call it an exposure) was far less risky.  No one has ever acquired HIV or hepatitis or HIV form picking their nose, no matter where there finger was before it entered their nose.  I urge you not to worry about this and can assure you that there is no need for any sort of testing.

I hope this comment is helpful to you.  EWH
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45 months ago

I'm doing great thank you. My other problems were negative. I keep reading on the internet about how long  hep c can live in a dried form. The one positive is the 4 of us never wear our contaminated gloves to answer the phone but there does seem to be a lot of dried on garbage on the phone. We are next to the paraffin embedding center and we usually never work with pure blood next to our units. Only  body fluids and formalin fixed thyroid and breast fluid. I have had a few close calls in the past month and it's hard to confide in people in my job. how long can I wait to get tested just for piece of mind. HIV is usually 8 weeks nbut I keep seeing to wait 6months for hep c......... that's a long tome ughh


Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
45 months ago
I think the internet has, once again, misled you.  There is a difference between the amount of time a virus can be detected and how long it is infectious, with being infectious being a considerably shorter period of time.  I really would not be worried.  As for when you can test, most persons who acquire hepatitis C have positive tests at 4-6 weeks although being 100% takes longer.  Given the slim odds that you were even exposed and the low risk of infection through the route you describe, if you must test (I would not were I you), a 4 week test would provide very strong evidence that you were not infected.  EWH
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45 months ago

I thought the same thing that everyday that goes by the hep c virus would weaken. My wife says that I research this too much and need to get on with life. I got cut a couple of months ago and started reading about Hep C and it really scared me. One more thing. Like I stated that my nose bleed didn't seem too deep ( light pink in color ). Does the depth of  a cut matter when it comes to the odds of being infected by hep or hiv ? I can say with a fact that if I did get any fragment of old material ( tissue, fluid or just plain dirt ) on the site it had to be very small. Do you know how accurate the rna pcr test is for hep. Thanks again and I hope after this I can go on and not have any other issues.


Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
45 months ago
With all due respect, I tend to agree with your wife.  From this and other posts, I do think you tend to overthing this.  Perhaps that is understandable given your work but I think it is still be bit over the top.

Vial infectivity is a function of the amount of virus one is exposed to (more virus, higher risk), viability of the virus (diminished with exposure to the environment), and route of exposure (highest with injection, non-existent with touch/passive transfer).  While I supposed depth of the cut might have some small impact, cuts are different from injection/infusion in terms of getting the virus into the circulation to cause infection and I am not aware of persons who have gotten infected through exposure of a pre-existing cut..  I really do not think you need testing at all for the situation (I will not call it an exposure- it was not).  I cannot comment on the hepatitis C RNA PCR sensitivity as it has not been used for diagnosis but for confirmation once antibodies have been detected and following therapy.

As you know, this is now my third response you your question and therefore this thread will close later today..  I hope my comments and reassurances have been helpful.  Take care.  EWH
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45 months ago
if you could one more question. some of the wax /material might have cause a small abrasion / cut under the nail. it wasn't bleeding but looked open. the health nurse  said it wasn't a problem.  the nail did sting a bit when the alcohol wipe touched it. would the wax be considered an inanimate object. I would think it would take more than irritation under the nail bed to transmit a potential pathogen ( dried material ).
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
45 months ago
Our guidelines permit up to 3 answers for each questions.  You should know this after all of your previous posts. This will be the final, brief response.  I agree with the nurse, the minor scrape you describe should not concern you.  EWH
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