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Hepatitis C, cut on hand, tiny invisible particles of blood. Will it spread?

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Practicing since : 1997
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Blood spread around household

Hi Doc,

A friend of mine who has Hep C (not sure of hep b status) recently cut his hand badly whilst at my house. He immediately washed his hand and covered the cut with a bandage. At the time I never thought anything more about it.

It was only 3 days later that I became really paranoid that there might be tiny invisible particles of blood on door handles, light switches, taps and the sink itself. I have a little boy who is always covered in cuts and grazes, and regularly picks at scabs etc etc. What would be the risks if he did this with the virus on his hands? I am also worried that the virus was splashed over toothbrushes when my friend washed his hand in the sink.

I have read that Hep c can survive on surfaces for up to 4 days and Hep B for even longer. I did check and could see no traces of blood. Could even miniscule invisible amounts of blood still be infectious after a short period of times assuming it came into contact with an open cut (via rubbing a graze, picking a scab etc)? Or am I being overly paranoid?

Posted Wed, 25 Apr 2012 in Infections
Answered by Dr. Vaibhav Banait 45 hours later

Surface contamination is one of the route through which blood borne organisms spread. As you correctly mentioned, hepatitis C survives 4 days while hepatitis B survives 6 weeks.

Though rare, the development of hepatitis C through surface contamination is a chance occurance with exact probability unknown. Hence I would advise you to get tested for HBV RNA PCR after two weeks and/or HCV (ELISA) after 6 weeks if you suspect exposure. There is no vaccine available.

Discard toothbrushes if you suspect splashes on these articles. Clean surfaces with lysol/ bacillocide. Use gloves. And don't touch articles like cell phone, glasses while you are using gloves.

Do not panic. The risk is extremely low.

Hope this helps.


Vaibhav Banait
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