[Question #256] Oral HSV-2

36 months ago
This is a continuation on my question about HSV-2 in saliva, with Terri Warren.
I didn't intend on coming back this soon, but a nurse I spoke with got me a little upset.
Yesterday morning I went out for my  three month blood check. The nurse and I got into a little bit of an argument concerning HSV-2 transmission in saliva. I tried explaining that the volume in saliva, flying out of a person's mouth and on to someone elses, isn't enough to transmit herpes. But the nurse was trying her hardest to convince me that even tiny droplets of saliva/moisture, when a person exhales, is enough to transmit the virus to someone else.
So I just wanted to set the record straight -- Does the size and amount of saliva/spit make any difference in the volume of HSV-2 not being enough to transmit? In other words, could I pour an entire bucket of saliva, from a person with Oral HSV-2, over my head and still not get infected? (Not that I would ever do such a thing. Just using an example). The spit that accidentally lands on my mouth, from other people, has come in all different sizes -- from small, medium, large, to even long extra-large!
In fact, the last time this has happened to me was last week! A police officer was at  my fiancee's house taking a report over items that were stolen from her storage house. As I was talking with the officer, he managed to accidentally get a large long blob of saliva directly onto my bottom lip. Some of it even got inside my mouth. I licked off the rest of it with my tongue really quick. The funny thing is, I was standing on the other side of the couch from the officer. I was standing nowhere near him. Wow.
Out of all the questions I've asked, I feel like this one is the most important since I seem to have bad luck when it comes to people accidentally spitting on my face and mouth. There doesn't seem to be any way for me to avoid this... unless I wear a mask all day, but that isn't an option.
An example of my bad luck: Last year my fiancee and I had a get together with friends at her house. One of her friends, who I will call "Ray", confessed to us that night that he had recently become HIV positive. That put a real damper on the fun conversations we were having, but we treated him no different and tried continuing on with the fun. So later on that evening, Ray and my fiancee were having a conversation. I was sitting down to the right of Ray, not even involved in their discussion. I was looking straight ahead, away from them, when suddenly I felt a drop of spit from Ray fall directly into my eye. On the outside, I appeared calm; but inside, I was screaming since I knew absolutely nothing about how HIV was transmitted. And Ray was the first person I ever knew to get infected. I would later do on-line searching to find out if my scenario was a risk or not, but I kept finding conflicting answers. So that is why I'm here asking you questions, instead of Googling them.  
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
36 months ago
The nurse is wrong.  I'm wondering - does she specialize in herpes? Does she have a number of articles in JAMA, New England Journal, Lancet, Journal of Infectious Disease?  If yes, then she and I can go head to head.  If not, her advice can be dismissed. It just ridiculous.  Even if a bucketful of saliva was dumped on your head from someone who was HSV 2 positive, you would not get HSV 2 because there would not be enough virus in saliva to infect you.  Robert, you are obsessing about this.  I respect your have a fear here and it sounds like some wacko nurse made this worse but you need to stop worrying about this - now!

Terri
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34 months ago
Is it possible to contract HSV 1 or 2 from a stranger's dog?
I was going out for my afternoon walk, when my neighbor's huge pit-bull ran up and collided into my right thigh. It left a "dirt" mark on my sweat pants. I looked up at my neighbor, who apologized, since he was just outside playing with his dog without a leash. Several seconds later I touched the mark, just to make sure the dog didn't tear through my pants since I didn't see what part of him collided with me. I would later touch the mark a couple more times, during my walk, just to make sure everything was fine.
10 minutes later, I was walking through the dirt trails when I came across two men who were walking their dog without a leash. One of the men picked up a stick from the dirt and gave it to the dog. The dog then started to happily walk towards me, with the stick in it's mouth. I tried to distance myself from the dog, but it managed to brush the stick against my bottom of my leg; leaving behind a long slobbery dirt mark on my right pant leg. I'm not sure if the stick cut or scratched through my pants.
Now I know I the virus can't transmit through clothing. PERIOD. But the sweat pants I was wearing were rather form fitting. And since I was speed walking, that means a lot of heat and friction. So I was wondering if that changes anything?
Does the virus still die very quickly when it gets on clothing that's currently being worn by someone?
Also, can I contract HSV from touching the mark left behind from the first dog? Especially since I touched it several seconds after it happened. I didn't wash my hands until about 30 minutes later. If I recall correctly, I think I touched it with my finger tips.
I must admit, I do feel incredibly silly for asking questions about this scenario. Which is why it's taken me over a month to even bother asking. But I wasn't sure if HSV 1 or 2 could remain on a dogs body after being touched by an infected human(e.g. the man touching the stick before putting it in his dogs mouth, which ended up brushing against my leg). I remember reading years ago how a someone got HSV on their leg from someones pet dog, but I'm not sure if that information was even accurate. 
Hope you have a happy holidays! You've certainly been a blessing for me this year with the helpful information you've given me!

Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
34 months ago
You don't need to feel silly.  Herpes isn't your area.  You can ask whatever you wish.
Human don't get herpes from their dogs; whatever you read was inadequate.  So you can take that off your worry list.
I'm glad to have been of help, Robert. You have a terrific New Year.
Best
Terri
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