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If a friend has a visible cold sore and shakes hand, am I at risk of contracting HSV1?

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Practicing since : 2007
Answered : 1201 Questions
Hi...just a brief question. I do not have HSV1 and try very hard to keep it that way. I have a question regarding transmission. If a friend has a visible cold sore and he shakes my hand, am I at risk of contracting? I know there could be a lot of variables in play but is that typically a way it could be transmitted? Thank you.
Posted Sun, 30 Jun 2013 in General Health
Answered by Dr. Jorge Brenes-Salazar 43 minutes later

Good for you, prevention is the key. HSV is a sensitive virus to the environment, thus for innoculation it has to go from one surface to the other between peoples bodies; so the way you describe the interactions does not carry a significant risk of infection. likewise for example you can shake hands with a person with AIDS and you wont get an infection.

thanks for your concerns wish you the best

Dr Brenes Salazar MD
Mayo Clinic MN
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: If a friend has a visible cold sore and shakes hand, am I at risk of contracting HSV1? 19 hours later
Thank you for your great info doctor. I agree prevention is key and even though this particular virus is common, I've made it almost 30 years without it so I'd like to continue without it. Let's say all of the conditions were worst case scenario...he touched his face, shook my hand, I touched my face. This didn't happen...but for educational purposes...what kind of risk could that carry? Thank you.
Answered by Dr. Jorge Brenes-Salazar 33 minutes later

I think that the infectivity odds even in such a scenario (definitely would be unusual) would be quite low, probably even lower than 1/100. Again, not impossible but extremely unlikely.

Wish you the best, regards,

Dr Brenes-Salazar
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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