[Question #6733] Non Sexual Genital Herpes Risk Assessment

13 months ago
hi terri, 3 things im worried about that i need expertise on. 1. on 2/23/2020 I picked up someone else's soda can that had been sitting there in my living room for most probably overnight but for atleast a few hours. the top of the soda can where someone would put their lips on touched my hand, and then about 5-10 minutes later I touched my penis. Is there any risk in this in regards to contracting genital herpes? How long does HSV1 live exposed to open air?  You've given me approximate ratios about herpes transmission before in my past questions. for example 1 in 1000 in contracting herpes in a single unprotected encounter from an infected person. What do you think my risk is here 1 in 5000 or 1 in 10000 or even less? Is there any risk here or am I just overreacting? 2. On March 1st my boss came in to work and it looked like she had a cold sore right under her nostril and I saw her touching it with her hands. She gave me her card to go pick up food and I drove about 10 minutes, used the card, waited another 5-10 minutes for the food and drove another 5-10 minutes back to work. I had noticed her cold sore and was going to wash my hands right after I gave it back. Once I got back to the parking lot I pulled up my pants and my hand touched my lower back. Is there any risk in this given the time elapsed after she had touched the card ? back to my main question which is how long does HSV1 live exposed to open air and is it even possible to contract genital herpes from an inanimate object that's been touched by someone that's infected, especially that the card was exposed to open air for atleast 20 minutes before I touched my back?
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
13 months ago
I think the risk with the soda can is zero.  The business with the credit card is also zero risk.  For transmission to happen, there needs to be a sufficient amount of virus present, an open kind of tissues, like mouths or labia or penis shaft, and a source of the virus that is living.  None of these things apply in your situation, in either case.

Terri
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13 months ago
the third and last thing is on  march 5th, my boss handed me a pen to sign something as I was leaving and pulled up my pants and my hand touched my back again. I'm only worried about this because of her cold sore and that she could have had touched her coldsore before touching the pen. this time I touched my back maybe 1 minute or two afterwards. I know the lower back isn't a mucous membrane or considered genital area but it's close.  this brings me back to my main questions which is how fast does HSV1 die exposed to open air and is there any risk in touching inanimate objects that have been touched by someone with the virus and then touching yourself afterwards? Please evaluate my risk for all of these 3. Do you recommend testing after 3 months for these incidents or is there no risk ? My tests before these incidents are negative for HSV1 and 2 after 3 months of any sexual exposure via IGG but I know IGG misses 30% of HSV 1 infections. There is a definite possibility I have an oral HSV 1 infection; as a teenager as I kissed dozens of girls and shared cigarettes and joints with many people before ever having sex, but I've decided not to take a western blot, as I would only be able to assume just like I am now.  Can I not worry about touching stuff my boss has been in contact with and is it safe for me to say the only ways genital herpes can really be transmitted is through oral, anal, and vaginal sex not touching inanimate objects and touching myself? 
13 months ago
I appreciate your swift response doc!! You really just helped me destress. Please just let me know about my 3rd incident I was worried about that I was still typing when you responded to the soda can and credit card one. I'm assuming the pen one is also zero risk. As this is my last response my remaining questions are all stated in my second response.

How long does HSV1 live exposed to open air? some sources say it dies extremely quickly and there's a canadian website that says 8 weeks! surely that can't be accurate.

Can I assume there is essentially zero risk with touching hard surfaces and things other people have touched at work and then touching your body? 

Can I not worry about touching stuff my boss has been in contact with and is it safe for me to say the only ways genital herpes can really be transmitted is through oral, anal, and vaginal sex not touching inanimate objects and touching myself? 

Is there any other ways of transmission besides oral, anal, or vaginal sex besides intravaneously? What about tattoos at a professional parlor?

Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
13 months ago
Yes, the pen incident is also zero risk.  I would say that other than kissing your boss or her giving you oral sex, you don't need to worry about transmission in the workplace.  Tattoos are not a risk at a reputable shop.

HSV 1 can live a very short time off the body.  And again, it depends upon the volume of the virus and the surface it is on and if it's wet or dry, hot or cold, lots of variables.  But certainly not 8 weeks!  OMG, no.

Terri
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