[Question #808] HCV

54 months ago
our area had a crisis when an hcv infected clinician reused needles on patients. i was not among the victims but have picked up a focus/paranoia  on hcv transmission. i asked a question a few months ago and apologize for asking again now. i was stuck by a plastic jagged edge on an egg carton in a grocery store. it didn't actively bleed but broke the skin pinprick style. at a casual glance, the edge had no obvious blood on it but i didn't check closely. had there been a trace amount of hcv infected blood on it or on the cart handle i then touched with the pricked finger, could i have been infected with hcv? thank you.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
54 months ago

I'm sorry that you continue to worry about this non-event.  Asking questions about whether something might ever happen is just not a healthy or fruitful use of your time.  People have been struck by meteors falling from space 9once to my knowledge0 but that does not mean that this is something that is a realistic concern. The same is true with regard to the minor cut you describe from being stuck by the edge of a plastic egg carton.  The change that you were exposed to viable, infectious virus is so low as to just not be a realistic concern.  Even with needle stick injuries the majority of hepatitis C do not lead to infection.  surface contamination with infected blood just does not transmit infection.  In the case of the event with the egg carton that you describe, a few of the many reasons that your concerns have no validity include:

1.  You do not know that the same sharp edge that stuck you had ever stuck someone else.

2.  If someone else had been stuck by the same carton edge, the likelihood that they had hepatitis C on the edge and left blood behind is tiny.

3.  Even if infectious blood had been left behind, the virus becomes much less infectious with exposure to the environment and drying so that the passage of time would make infection still less likely.

4.  For infection to occur from a puncture, infectious material must be introduce into your blood stream as might occur with an injection of contaminated material- this did not occur with the event you describe.

The fact that now, months after this event you continue to worry about it suggests that you need help in moving forward beyond the no risk concerns that you describe. These infections are not nearly so infectious as you seem to believe.  You don't mention if you have been tested for hepatitis C (or other infections you might be concerned about.  If you have, I expect that the results were negative and I would urge you to accept them and move forward. There is certainly NO medical reason that the sorts of events you describe warrant testing.  Rather, I would suggest you seek the help of a professional counselor to help you address whatever might be contributing to this unwarranted and unrealistic concern so that you can go forward without concern.  Further, I would urge you to stay off the internet related to these concerns- the internet will almost certainly mislead you and fuel your anxieties.  EWH

---