[Question #3367] Possibly touched fresh blood with my hand

37 months ago
Dear Drs,
Thank you so much for your help. I was concerned as about an hour ago I went to a photo store in Manhattan to have my camera looked at. The man who helped me and was working on my camera noticed a cut on his thumb and I realized that he was bleeding and got some of his blood on my camera. I was concerned as I touched my camera after and I'm not sure if I came in contact with the fresh blood. I did not notice any cuts on my hands but I do have a hangnail but it's not bleeding. I used handsanitizer within a few minutes after. The man appeared to be orthodox or Hasidic Jew and in his late 50s if demographics matter. Is there any risk of HIV or hepatitis C? Is there anything I should do? I am immunized against hepatitis B. Thank you so much. 
37 months ago
P.S. my hands might be a little chapped or dry if that make a difference. Also it may have been about 10 minutes or so before I applied the hand sanitizer
37 months ago
p.p.s. I'm so sorry just one last clarification/question.  I used hand sanitizer about 10 minutes after, and maybe 10 minutes after that splashed water on my hands and used more hand sanitizer.  Is it bad that I wasn't able to wash my hands in a sink with soap and water until about an hour after?  Thank you so much.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
37 months ago
Welcome to the Forum.  I'll do my best to help.  Direct contact with fresh blood is always disconcerting and is listed as a risk factor for acquisition of HIV and hepatitis c (or, if in-vaccinated, hepatitis B.  The fact however is that while such exposures are only a theoretical risk for these infections, the fact is that such exposures are very, very low risk - far lower than needle sticks or sexual contact.  Our skin/epidermal surfaces are highly effective barriers to infection and even with healing cuts or scrapes, abrasions, or problems like hang nails do not meaningfully increase the risk associated with such infections.  Neither of us on this forum has ever seen a person who acquired HIV from such exposures while we have seen and taken care of many persons who acquired infections through needle sticks and sexual contact.

Getting to your specific exposure, in addition to being a virtually zero risk exposures IF the salesman had HIV or hepatitis C, the fact as that the likelihood that your salesman had either infection is also tiny.  I would not worry about this exposure in the least.  I see no reason for concern and no reason for testing.  I hope my assurances will be helpful for you.  EWH
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36 months ago
Dear Dr. Hook,

Thank you so much for your most helpful and informative response.

Another question.  I stood about 3 feet away from a hospital patient spitting and/or vomiting into a bag.   In your experience would it be obvious to me if vomit or spit entered my eye, nose, or mouth?  I was wearing glasses but not a mask.  I didn't feel anything and the other people around didn't seem concerned.  Do you perceive this would be a risk to me in this kind of situation?  Thank you very much.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
36 months ago
Yes, you would certainly know it if vomit or split landed in you mouth, eyes, or ears.  Even if it did, there would be no risk of acquiring HIV or other STIs.  EWH
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36 months ago
Thank you so much for your reply.   I just wanted to clarify it was the hospital patient who was spitting and/or vomiting and I was standing about 3 feet away while this happened.  I was worried if the patient's bodily fluids could have contaminated me.  Just to confirm, even if there was splatter from the patient vomiting or spitting that landed in my eye or mouth this would not be a risk to me?  If my glasses had slid down on my nose and my eyes were exposed would that be a risk if a drop of the patient's vomit or spit got in my eye?  Also I just wanted to make sure, would this be a situation in which I should take PEP?   In general is vomit or spit considered a risk of transmission of infection if it lands on a mucous membrane?  Thank you so much for all of your help.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
36 months ago
I understand the circumstances of the events which occurred near you. Nonetheless, the was a NO RISK, event.  This true even if some of the material landed in you eye.  Put another way, there is no known risk of infection with HIV or hepatitis C from exposures of this sort.  No one has EVER been documented to become infected this way.  EWH---
36 months ago
Dr. Hook,

Thank you so much once again for all of your wisdom and patience and for providing such clear explanations.  

If I could ask one more question, since I have this golden opportunity.  For educational purposes, if blood from a patient splattered and got on my mucous membrane, such as my eye or my mouth or nose, under what circumstances would there be concern?   I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity to tap your expertise and receive some guidance and pearls of wisdom.  Many thanks again for all that you do.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
36 months ago
 Our policy on this forum is to provide a total of three responses to each question. Although you have received three responses. I will address your fourth question briefly but then this thread will be closed. When it is I must warn you that repetitive, anxiety-driven questions  May not be answered and can be closed without a response or refund of your posting fee. 

 HIV is transmitted only through direct sexual contact or injection of infected material deep into tissue. Touching infected secretions or blood, or splashes by infected secretions and blood is not a risk factor for acquisition of HIV. In some instances such exposures are listed as POTENTIAL risks  for infection however I have never seen or heard of a case of HIV which is been proven to be acquired in this way. HIV is just not that easy to acquire. 

 This completes my responses to this thread. I wish you the best. Please don't worry about the sorts of exposures we have discussed here. They are not serious/meaningful risks for infection. Take care.  EWH 
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