[Question #5234] Hep C and environmental contact

24 months ago

I was in an STI clinic in Dublin, Ireland getting tested and had a negative result with a rapid test. I went to the single room bathroom to give my urine sample. When I was leaving the toilet, I noticed some dry blood along the walls near the handle, but nothing in the sink and didn't feel anything on the handle/snib of the toilet - but I didn't really bother to look at them that closely. I opened the door and snib-lock  first and washed my hands after. 

Im worried because I know Hepatitis C (Im vaccinated against B) can live for weeks in environment. I didnt see anything visible on my hands at any point, but obviously would have touched the handle/lock to close it on the way in, then touch my own penis/retract foreskin slightly to give the urine sample along with my clothes/belt buckle etc. 

Do you think there is any risk here to contract hep C? - say there were trace amounts of virus on the handle or on the tap when washing my hands?

I've read on your forum that's its not really a traditional "sti" (sorry, just dont know where else to ask) - how is it transmitted? Could skin contact do anything?

 I'm happy about my results from the test and the reassurance the Doctor gave me about any sexual encounters, just considering the possibility of Hep C in the toilets

Thanks in advance. 

Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
24 months ago
Welcome to the Forum.  I'll do my best to help.  Let me provide you with my answer to start with, then provide a bit more detail.  This is not an exposure to worry about.  

You are correct that there are studies which show that hepatitis C, virus under the right conditions, can survive for up to several weeks but in these conditions transmission is extraordinarily rare and is likely facilitated by contact with open cuts and abrasions. Further hand washing, while not entirely protective would also greatly reduce the amount of virus which could theoretically lead to transmission of infection. Thus while seeing the blood on the toilet handle is troublesome, it is not dangerous or something to worry about.  Further, you do not know that the person from whom the blood came from had hepatitis C  I see no reason for testing for hepatitis C related to the event you describe and would not be worried at all.

I hope that his information is helpful. If there are additional questions or problems, please don't hesitate to use your up to two follow-up questions for clarification. EWH.