[Question #6091] Sharing oral thermometers

17 months ago
Good morning,

I have recently visited the ER and they took my temperature with an oral thermometer. The nurse discarded the cover right they took my temperature, but on the way back home I thought what if they forgot to discard it for the previous person and we ended up sharing the same one. I know there is no hiv risk from sharing straws or utensils, would this apply to this situation as well:

- thermometer under the tongue
- worst case scenario assumptions, previous patient is hiv positive and had sores in the mouth, I would have sores in my mouth too - I am not aware of any, but ai can’t see what’s under my rongue.

Also I didn’t see any blood on the thermometer but then again i didn’t look at it carefully either.

From reading your previous comments, I assume it is no risk, but it would be reassuring to have your confirmation.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
17 months ago
Welcome back to the Forum.  I'm sorry that you felt it necessary.  The events you describe did not put you at risk for HIV.  Your message is written in such a way that you already indicate that you are aware of just how unlikely it is that the person seen in the ER before you had untreated HIV and how unlikely it is that the thermometer cover used to taken your temperature had been used before on another person.  Let me add to that there is no risk for HIV transmission or acquisition through kissing. which would involve direct saliva exchange.  Thus it is even more improbable that HIV would be transmitted indirectly through a "shared" thermometer cover.  HIV becomes non-infectious almost immediately upon exposure to the environment.  This latter fact is a unifying theme between this reply and my earlier reply to you.

Please remember that HIV is transmitted ONLY the DIRECT sexual contact or injection of infected material DEEP into tissue.  Skin contact, surface contact of scrapes and wounds, touching material potentially contaminated by infected material does not.  I say this now as I also remind you that the purpose of this Forum is not to address the many "what if" questions which occur all too regularly for persons with OCD.  These sorts of questions should be directed to whomever is helping you to address your OCD.  EWH
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17 months ago
Thanks so much for confirming, dr Hook. Last question: so even during sports, touching scrapes or scratches that bleed a bit between 2 people, still no risk of transmission, only theoretical? For transmission to occur, it would need a large blood quantity going deep into tissue? 

The reason I ask is because I read this case below:


What are your thoughts? Mother passed it to her child through touching while both had bleeding wounds.

Your reply is much appreciated.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
17 months ago
Correct, the risk you are worried about is theoretical, like the theoretical risk of being struck by a meteor falling from the sky.  You really need to relax.  

Please let me remind you that repetitive, anxiety-driven questions are not permitted on the Forum and we reserve the right to delete such questions without a response and without return of your posting fee.  Your questions are moving in that direction.  EWH
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Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
17 months ago
The fact that you had to go to a report of two cases which occurred more than 25 years ago demonstrates just how rare this is.  You need to move forward.  EWH---
17 months ago
Thank you dr Hook for putting things in persoective. This concludes this thread.

Best regards