[Question #242] HSV-2 leftovers on seat

37 months ago
This is a follow up on the question regarding HSV-2 transmitting through clothing. Unfortunately my fiancee has become rather worried about my incident of sitting down on a seat that was previously sat on by a woman wearing a mini skirt and potentially no underwear. Ever since her small scare of getting HSV from a feather tickler at a Horror Maze, last month, she's become a bit more "aware" of the viruses existence.
I warned her NOT to Google questions on HSV, as I know that it'll only cause paranoia due to so much misinformation and answers from non-professionals. But she went ahead and did so, and now she's questioning the possibility of HSV-2 being passed through vaginal fluids.
So I have two questions to ask, on her behalf. Both questions relate to the "sitting down on HSV-2" incident. You could say they are the same question, and would probably have the same answer, but I'm asking them so my fiancee's mind doesn't try to come up with any other "What if?" scenarios and will help put away her worries.
To refresh your memory, this incident is about a woman who approached me, while I was sitting down in a trolley on my way home, and asked me to scoot over so she could sit next to me and have her photo taken of us. After she took the photo, she left and I started to scoot back to my original seat. I moved just a little bit but stopped myself from scooting all the since I wasn't sure if the woman had underwear on; and she was wearing a very small mini-skirt.
1. Assuming the woman didn't have underwear on and her bare bottom was sitting directly on the seat, would there be a risk of contracting HSV-2 if any vaginal fluids were leftover and I happened to sit on some of it? We know that the virus can't transmit through clothing, but what if it's being carried in vaginal fluids? I think my fiancee is worried about the virus seeping through my clothing in fluid.
2. When the woman sat down next to me, I don't recall if she had lifted her skirt or not before sitting. If the underside of her skirt happened to be touching my arm/body, even though I was fully clothed with a long sleeve shirt and pants, could HSV-2 in vaginal fluids be able to infect me through my clothing? I'm pretty sure the answer to this one is no.
At the time, I was wearing a store bought Halloween costume -- long sleeve shirt and pants made entirely out of 100% polyester.
I should probably also point out that the woman in question was already sitting down , several chairs ahead of me, before she noticed my costume and approached me for the photo.
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
37 months ago
There is no risk whatsoever to either scenario.  Let's take the worst case scenario here.  Let's say she had no underwear on and sat directly on the seat and you say right down on that.  there is zero risk.  Herpes virus does not, absolutely does not, come through clothing.  Period. And as I read back across your question, that is basically the question both in scenario 1 and 2.  Not possible, isn't happening. 
Your two are worrying way too much about getting herpes in non sexual ways.  It just doesn't happen.  You can put your minds at rest on this situation.

Terri
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37 months ago
Thank you for your reply. For once, I'm actually not the one concerned in this situation; it's my fiancee. These are HER questions. I've tried telling her everything you've taught me, but since I'm not a "professional" she'd rather read the answers from you. Ugh, now I know how you guys feel like when someone doesn't want to listen to the answers you give them.

She has two more questions, and that'll be the last of it. I don't think it's healthy asking these "What if?/worst case scenario" questions.

1. Is it still a zero risk if there was menstrual blood present? The costume I was wearing at the time had fake blood stains on it, and some of those stains had penetrated through the pants. (I'm certain all those stains are fake. And the stains on the thigh/butt region are very small. TINY!)

2. Can Herpes be passed through blood? If the blood is off the body and on an object in the open air, will the herpes virus still die quickly(10 seconds tops) regardless if the blood is wet or dry? On that same night of the incident, after I got home, my fiancee had rubbed off a tiny red thick stain on my costume pants with her finger. It was dry, but had that slight wet leftover stain underneath it.(I'm sure that was just spilled TOMATO SAUCE from a pizza I ate, hours beforehand! We had ordered extra sauce with our pizza that got sloppy!)

In regards to question number two, I tried answering that question myself to my fiancee. From what I understand, the Herpes virus dies once it leaves living skin cells. So I assumed it would still die quickly in blood that was off the body. Though I wasn't certain if the blood had to be dry or not. Any input?
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
37 months ago
1.  Yes, even if menstrual blood is present.  Herpes is not in blood, it comes from skin!  We only do blood tests for herpes because there is antibody there, not virus.
2.  The answer is the same as #1, Robert. 

Terri
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37 months ago
Thank you for answering those questions for my fiancee.  She seems better off now, and I certainly did not want her searching for answers all over the internet and then possibly suffer from information overload.

I have one last question on my behalf; and probably the final question I'll ever ask in regards to herpes -- If a person is infected with Oral HSV-2, could they infect me if their saliva accidentally flys out of their mouth and land onto mine, while talking? This tends to happen to me in the line of work I do. In meetings, sometimes someone will be talking and a small blob of their saliva will land either inside or on my mouth.  Being in a professional setting, I tend to quickly lick it off(natural habit) since its right on the lip and I just move on.  I have no clue if these people have visible sores when this happens, since I'm not looking for those type of things when I'm conducting a presentation.

Is it bad if their saliva gets in my mouth? Would it make a difference if the person doing the spitting was having an outbreak or shedding?

I've never really worried about this, since I've always followed the simple rule - "You can get herpes ONLY from skin-to-skin contact". AND I already have HSV-1(since 2003). But last year, I recall reading that herpes can be transmitted in saliva. There seems to be conflicting reports on that though, as most information seems to be on HSV-1 only. Some people say that only children can get infected by saliva, since their immune system isn't strong enough; and adults can't get it since we're stronger.

Would me being an adult, and already having HSV-1, make any difference of getting infected with oral HSV-2 saliva flying in the air?

I'm guessing that there shouldn't be anything to worry about since Oral HSV-2 is uncommon.

Thank you again. I deeply appreciate all the help and knowledge you've given me, and my finacee, on herpes. I think now is a good time to move. Thank you so much!
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
37 months ago
Wow, you must have a weird work setting that this happens to you often!  I don't recall ever having that happen to me in my work setting, actually.  HSV 2 orally is really rare and it is only shed on about 3 days out of the year.  Plus it takes a certain volume, as we have discussed, of virus, to get infected so the scenario that you describe is NOT going to transmit herpes. 
Your are most welcome

Terri
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