[Question #2827] worried about daughter

40 months ago
Hello, doctor. Here is the situation. I am a single father and have 14 year old daughter. We had food delivered yesterday and on one of the cartons, which was sitting on the counter top for about 15 minutes, there were two drops of blood. No idea where it came from. My daughter took a tissue, wiped it off, then took her spoon by the head (which touches food and then mouth) and started eating her meal. I asked her to wash her hands and spoon after I saw it, but she took a couple of sips by that time. I am a hypochondriac and started worrying if she touched the blood through tissue (as tissues are not latex gloves, things can sip through) and then transferred it to her spoon which then touched her food/mouth (she recently went to a dentist and has cuts still healing) - would she be at risk of catching hepC or HIV? Especially HIV. Would 15 mins air exposure on a carton be enough for the virus to die if it were HIV+? I cannot find an answer on the internet. Some say it is active for just few minutes, other claim few hours or even days. So confused and worried about my daughter. That is why I am writing to you. I was told you are the best in the field. Thank you.

Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
40 months ago
Welcome to our Forum.  I understand the concerns that arise when the safety of our children is under consideration and am pleased that I can assure you that there is no risk of her from having touched or maybe even having ingested HIV or hepatitis contaminated blood.  The single major reason that this is the case is because HIV becomes non-infectious virtually immediately after exposure to the environment both due tot he effects of temperature which is lower than body temperature and exposure to the air and its drying tendencies.  In addition to this reason, I urge you to remember:

1.  You do not know where the blood came from or whether or not the source had an infection- most people do not.
2.  HIV does not cause infection when ingested.  No one over age 6-12 months has ever become infected by ingestion of infected material.
3.  HIV or hepatitis viruses would "stick" to the fibers in the tissue, and not be transferred to someone after the tissue had been used to clean the surface of a spoon.

Please do not focus on any one of these reasons why your daughter is not at risk but consider them as a whole and be assured that she is not at risk in any way from the event you describe.  There is no reason for concern, no reason to worry, and no reason for her to be tested.  I hope these comments are helpful.  EWH
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