question-icon

Can Hepatitis C Be Contracted Through Contaminated Food?

default
Posted on Thu, 9 Nov 2017
Question: Hi, I have a question about transmission of Hepatitis C. I read that HepC can live outside the body in dried blood. I fear that I may have eaten food that could have been contaminated with blood, even though there was no visible blood on the food. I'm genuinely concerned that I may have eaten some microscopic amount of contaminated blood. I know that HepC isn't transmitted by ingesting contaminated blood but what set off my phobia was the fact that I bit into my lip while chewing. I did not bite so far down into my lip that I saw or tasted blood although it might have bled for a second. I can't tell you if it was just a bruise or a cut. I will say it was so minor that it is nearly healed 12 hours later.

Obviously, I have a blood phobia and I realize your answer will not cure me of my phobia, but it may help me get past this and future episodes. Since reading that HepC lives outside of the body and can be transmitted through dry blood I have been nervous about possibly eating contaminated food when I have anything like a blister or minor abrasions in my mouth. The more I read about how tiny this virus is the more I worry. I also get a lot of cracks in my skin on my hands and worry that this may be an entry point for a tiny virus like HepC as well.

I am literally worried about things on a microscopic level. I never saw blood in my food. I'm not even sure if the bite into my lip bled at all, and the cracks in my skin on my hands typically do not bleed.

Most of the information available to me on the web about transmission of blood borne viruses is in reference to HIV. In those forums I read that you would have to have an obviously bleeding open wound (something that might require stitches) for transmission to even be theoretical. I haven't accepted this about HepC because the virus is smaller, more infectious, and it lives outside of the body.

Is what I'm worried about even theoretically possible or should I only be worried if I encounter a visible amount of blood? Also, should I only be worried about the bite into my lip, blisters in my mouth from spicy and crunchy food, or these cracks in my skin if they are not deep and bleeding profusely?

Thank you for your help and your patience in talking to me about my phobia. Rational explanations do help me. Being told not to worry isn't very effective but I can accept a scientific explanation.

doctor
Answered by Dr. Prof. Kunal Saha (4 hours later)
Brief Answer:
No need to worry

Detailed Answer:
Thanks for asking on Health care magic.

I have gone through your query and understand your concern. Let me assure you that there is no reason to be concerned. The spread of Hepatitis C occurs through blood borne and sexual route. It does not spread through feco-oral route. So even if there was live virus in your food it is very unlikely that you would get Hepatitis C in this manner, and this is irrespective of the lip sores that you might have. In other words there is no reason for apprehension.

Feel free to write back.

Regards
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
default
Follow up: Dr. Prof. Kunal Saha (28 minutes later)

Hi, I understand but my worry is over the possibility of food being contaminated with dried blood. Since I bit my lip while chewing I worry about dried blood to blood contact. In this case, I don't even know if it bled. It healed quickly and I never saw a scab. My fear is that it bled for only a second or two and may have contacted dried blood in contaminated food. What I'm wondering is if I would have to have a deep cut in my lip, one where I obviously know that I'm bleeding, for this to even be a theoretical risk.

Thank you for chance to follow up on my question. I'm always afraid I'm going to catch a blood borne illness and reading about "theoretical" risk has me worried about it more than most other people. I worry about microscopic amounts of blood somehow getting in a cut in my mouth or cracks in the skin of my hands.
doctor
Answered by Dr. Prof. Kunal Saha (5 hours later)
Brief Answer:
Glad to be of service

Detailed Answer:
I am glad that you feel assured. Feel free to contact me back in case you need any further assistance. I will be there to assist you.

Regards
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
Answered by
Dr.
Dr. Prof. Kunal Saha

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :1954

Answered : 4471 Questions

premium_optimized

The User accepted the expert's answer

Share on
Can Hepatitis C Be Contracted Through Contaminated Food?

Brief Answer: No need to worry Detailed Answer: Thanks for asking on Health care magic. I have gone through your query and understand your concern. Let me assure you that there is no reason to be concerned. The spread of Hepatitis C occurs through blood borne and sexual route. It does not spread through feco-oral route. So even if there was live virus in your food it is very unlikely that you would get Hepatitis C in this manner, and this is irrespective of the lip sores that you might have. In other words there is no reason for apprehension. Feel free to write back. Regards