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Hep C Transmission-cold sores, bleeding gums, cat scratches...?
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Hep C Transmission-cold sores, bleeding gums, cat scratches...?

I was recently engaged to a woman with Hep C. When she found out she was infected, I got tested and mine came back negative. Now that we have decided to get married, and are living together, different situations keep popping up and I wonder what I need to worry about in this type of long-term relationship with someone with Hep C. Here are some of my concerns:

Sex: This was originally my biggest concern. But from what I have read, transmission of Hep C is unlikely through sex and the official position on it is that couples in a monogamous relationship shouldn't change their sexual habits because the risk is so low. However, we have been using the common sense not to have sex during her period. I have heard though that there is a higher risk with anal sex, but some of that info seems contradictory. I am assuming, though, that as long as I don't have any kind of sores down "there" and she doesn't bleed from there, then we should be ok. Does this sound right?

Mouth sores: My fiance gets cold sores sometimes, she has had that problem since childhood. Does anyone know about the transmisson risk from kissing her while she has a cold sore? Also, she has no teeth (long story), and I suspect that sometimes she irritates her gums and causes them to bleed. Any advice about that?

Cats: We have two cats in the house. Was wondering what the risk of transmission was if I got scratched by a cat after the cat scratched her?

Electric Razors: I have caught her using my electric razor on her legs. What risk is involved there?

Wondering if anyone has answers or knows who would.
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26 Comments Post a Comment
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132578_tn?1189759437
Have any of your cats been using intravenous drugs? Are they out late at night and you dont know where they are? Are they stealing from you? Have they started hanging around with "ALLEY CATS" ? If you can answer YES to any of these questions , you better get them checked.

That whole bleeding gums thing is another subject all together. I personally dont understand why it would not be a source of infection with HCV. I believe that the way the "powers that be" approach what should be considered as a potential source is if the contaminated blood is some how pushed in to the blood stream as would be with a hypodermic or a blood transfusion.

My opinion , could be wrong , watch those cats.

Mark
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Avatar_m_tn
Use common sense and educate your partner.

Anal sex is associated with higher rates of transmission (google the subject for the "why") so use condoms if you want to be safe. Abstain from sex during her period if you want to be safe.

If your cat scratches your partner, drawing blood, have her alert you of that fact. If the cat does this on a regular basis, some suggest dogs make better companions.

She should not be your personal items like razors, hairbrushes, nail clippers, etc. Educate her and keep them separate so there won't be any mistakes.

Have her see a dentist to get the gum problem taken care of, and the same goes for you if you have bleeding gums or open sores in your mouth.

Really, nothing to go crazy over, just use common sense as Hepatitis C is a blood-to-blood transmitted disease.

-- Jim
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132578_tn?1189759437
Hey Chevy. Good morning. I stumbled on to the link you posted a couple of weeks ago. I really dont know what to think of it. It certainly gives those of us that feel we know how we got it a way out of the hard truth if we so choose. Luckely , I got a tatoo in 1975 , the same year that I became infected with the virus. That really came in handy when I was trying to explain to my son , (who just happened to be studying HCV in health class) how I got the disease.
Have a great day chevy.
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Avatar_m_tn
Respecfully, I find that a scary website with lots of unscientific speculation IMO. It does not represent the "mainstream" point of view regarding Hep C transmission as found in most medical papers or web sites. This is not to say that Hep C can't be transmitted for example through dental work or used medical devices, but if so I assume it must be very uncommon or we'd hear more about it and transmission rates would be higher in this country than they are. For that reason I think the website would give a newcomber to the subject more to worry about than necessary and indeed present Hep c as more of a menace to the general public than I personally think it is. I'm sure others will disagree but hey, that's what Wednesday's are here for :)

Hope this finds everyone well today.

-- Jim
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi there

I never thought about the cat scratching thing before, but whenever I have a cut or scratch, i put a bandaid on it just as a precaution.
Your lady shouldnt be using any of your grooming tools, razors, toothbrush, nail clippers, brushes/combs.
I agree with the sex issue, dont have sex during period time, use a condom if need be. Ive had 3 long term relationships and all my partners are negative. (and we did slip up sometimes when i had an early period..oops), but better to be safe than sorry and cover up.
I have bleeding gums, lips etc, with mouth ulcers, I would rather not have kissing contact with anyone during this time 'just in case'.
We are all still learning so much about hepatitis c that it is better to practice safety, prevention and hygeine whenever possible.
Hope this helps in some way.

Linda
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Avatar_m_tn
This short exerpt from the CDC web site IMO probably accounts for like 99.9% of all Hep C tranmissions. Again, my opinion -- and the CDC's I also assume.  Full copy here:
http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/hepatitis/c/chronic.htm#5

"...HCV is spread primarily by exposure to human blood. You may have gotten hepatitis C if:

    * you ever injected street drugs, even if you experimented a few times many years ago.
    * you were treated for clotting problems with a blood product made before 1987.
    * you received a blood transfusion or solid organ transplant (e.g., kidney, liver, heart) from an infected donor.
    * you were ever on long-term kidney dialysis.
    * you were ever a health care worker and had frequent contact with blood in the work place, especially accidental needlesticks.
    * your mother had hepatitis C at the time she gave birth to you.
    * you ever had sex with a person infected with HCV.
    * you lived with someone who was infected with HCV and shared items such as razors or toothbrushes that might have had blood on them."

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Avatar_m_tn
JmJm530: I'm sure others will disagree but hey, that's what Wednesday's are here for :)
--------------------------------
Of course it just occured to me that today is *Tuesday* and not Wednesday, so I guess we can't disagree then. LOL. Boy, better get one of those callendar watches :)
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Avatar_m_tn
Just so you understand, I am pretty certain on the date NOW and will take all comers on that one :)
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Avatar_n_tn
I woke up today in a really foul mood.  Y'all have me grinning from ear to ear, even on Tue.  Thanks for the humor spiced sound advice y'all share.  I'll probably be laughing at the cats thru Wed. and letting the dogs know they may have a new job.  Happy blessing you give.  Happy blessings right on back to ya, Lori
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96938_tn?1189803458
Any day not on tx is a good day, no matter what you call it. BTW, haven't read a moth update lately. Hope there's a SMR too.
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Avatar_m_tn
The transmission of HCV in clinical settings is not even mentioned on the CDC list. However, contracting an infection in a hospital/clinical enviornment is the number #3 reason for death in the US today in 2006. The AMA and ADA have something to do with the lack of available patient information in this area of transmission. Let the patient BEWARE and BE AWARE. Your doctors, hospitals and dentists do pose a threat. You might think it is a small threat, but the data showing infection contracted in hospitals as one of the TOP 3 ways to die in the US should show you something different. In other coutries the threat is even worse depending on where the facility is and their adherence to proper ifection controls or lack thereof.
I was never an IV drug user nor a cocaine user and I have HCV I contracted during an outpatient surgery.
It is a well kept secret that you can contract HCV ( and  HBV)
in clinnical settings, here is one example of it and there are many,more, these women went in for surgery and came out with HCV:

http://jcm.asm.org/cgi/content/abstract/39/8/2860


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Avatar_n_tn
Good to see your UPBEAT post....and thanks for the reminder...i am beginning to suspect that jim has declared a truce w/ the moths and even possibly developed a fondness for the furry-winged denizens of the nite..he may be attempting to persuade them out of the 'closet' altogether and spread their wings in the fullness of the light..then again maybe just changed fabric choices to synthetics -speedos-and dances inthe dark ,but only on Weds...!
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Avatar_m_tn
I have ever heard the hair brush caution before, I think it is ot somethig you eed to worry about, that is't o ay list I have ever seen. The nail clippers pose a remote risk of havig blood on them but it is a stretch. If you have anal sex, use a condom you can not kow if there is blood ad some blood ismore ommo with anal sex so your risk  is higher. Just avoid uprotected sex during menstration. If she is havig bleeding gum s or sores, you are more likely to catch herpes from her cold sores than HCV I would think but she should see a dentist if her gums are bleeding. Many long term couples have show i studies ot to pass the virus to their partner, try ot to worry about it too much. You are more likely to catch a cold from her than HCV if you use cautions when blood exposure is possible.
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Avatar_m_tn
Hell,

Sure, a stiff bristle brush can scratch the scalp transferring a micro-droplet of blood. Happened to me but didn't share it with anyone. How often does this happen -- blood transferrence with hairbrush? Probably rarely but why take a chance for something this simple to avoid. Lots of reasons for people not to share personal items  -- especially hairbrushes -- besides Hep C. Sharing hairbrushes is frequently mentioned and if you spend some time googling "hepatitis c hairbrush" you will find references. Here's one passing reference http://www.hepnet.com/charge/chap4.html

Kalio's said: It is a well kept secret that you can contract HCV ( and HBV)in clinnical settings
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It must be pretty well kept because I haven't seen any credible studies on this. Not saying it's impossible but the CDC list I posted above seems to cover most of the likely transmission routes. I do agree with much of what you said regarding people contracting this and that in hospitals but I would imagine most of what you are referring to are bacterial and viral infections. Keep in mind that hep c is blood to blood and much harder to contract.

The study you did cite was less of a study than an investigation of an incident in an Italian hospital. I have no doubt that it happened BUT it appears they used the same needle for all the patients or some such thing per the report here:  

" The investigation showed that the source patient and outbreak patients shared only the administration of propofol in multidose vials.

Except for isolated instances like these, I haven't read anything to warrant listing clinical settings as anything more than a rare transmission route of hep c.

-- Jim
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Avatar_f_tn
here is where you can find info on clinical setting transmission of the cute viruses
http://www.hcvets.com/data/transmission_methods/medical%20_procedures.htm#procedures
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Avatar_f_tn
same site as chev's(just noticed that one) but the data actually comes from the mortality and morbidity report, of which I got copies from the CDC. these are recent infections, which makes it more scary.
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Avatar_m_tn
I have no doubt this happens as illustrated by some of the incidents posted as well as the Italian hospital example. My point was that this is a very uncommon means of transmission and usually involves a break in accepted medical protocol like sterilization technique. I still think the CDC list accounts for around 99% plus of all HCV transmissions and haven't yet seen anything to prove otherwise. Could I be wrong? Happens all the time :)

-- Jim
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Avatar_m_tn
The CDC doesn't warn the public the number 3 way to die in the US is through infection in a hospital setting either, but that is a FACT. They are the fox watching the hen house. I definately do not depend on the CDC for my only info. That is like asking your doctor what the chances of contraction in a hospital are, most doctors will say the risk is nil, of course. If you contract HCV in a clinical setting in the future don't say you weren't warned. I have no trouble finding lots of info. on this subject.


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Avatar_m_tn
I only picked the CDC list because  a lot of folks give it credibility. I've seen the near identical list in most credible hep c articles and web sites. Never saw "clinical transmission" mentioned on any of them although as I said, I believe it happens, just rarely. And as much as I am wary of hospitals for all the reasons stated and unstated, I am a little dubious about it being the number 3 way of dying, expect maybe because those very ill anyway, get pushed over the hill with exposure in a hospital stay. If you have the study handy, please post.

That said, I have my own hospital story MANY years ago when I was dx with FUO (fever unknown origin) when returning from a lttle roadtrip to the MidEast and beyond. Think fever was just before they ice you (106 ?) and I was to be administered very strong IV antibiotics every eight hours if I remember through my IV tube.
Fortunately I was concious and looking at my watch because the first dose came three hours late because of one excuse or another, but the kicker was that 20 minutes after the first dose, another nurse arrives with the second dose four hours early. Her explanation was it was New Year's or something and she was going to take off early. Well, she did take off and with the antibiotics because I wouldn't let her near the IV tube. Now if I was old, infirmed, unconcious, they probably could have done me in. Hospitals are not the place for sick people :)
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Avatar_n_tn
I believe I got this from an appendectimony at the age of 13.  Very old country hospital, old equipment, old doctor (died a few years later).  He left pieces of steel in me and cut me way too much.  I was sick afterwards and never quite the same since.  Noone believes a 13 year old, least didn't believe me.  Then when I finally had the steel pieces taken outten years later and was asked if I had been next to an exploding grenade, well, that was different.

miss
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Avatar_m_tn
I agree with most of what you say and certainly don't disagree that there are many walking around undiagnosed with Hep C. However, I do question whether or not there are more people infected with HCV in this country than the 2-3% figure usually given. While of course the population as a whole hasn't been tested, very large samples have such as army recruits, etc. If you google "army study hep c prevelence" or "hcv general population infected" or something similar you will come up with retrospective studies of different population groups which seem to suggest that HCV is safely contained within that 2-3% group. Of course, even one person infected with HCV virus is too many but it appears to at least this person the vast majority of the transmission routes are as stated by the CDC and while others certainly may exist, they would be considered uncommon.

-- Jim
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Avatar_m_tn
That's what all the women say. Why do you think we guys have to nap so much. Yes, maybe CDM will come to the rescue.
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Avatar_m_tn
Well. You go earn for both of us cause I'm taking a nap. Hilarious movie btw. Hilarious.
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Avatar_n_tn
jmjm530 said: "She should not be your personal items like razors, hairbrushes, nail clippers, etc." The razor thing seems reasonable. Even with electric razors, little cuts or nicks can happen occasionally. And I've heard not to share toothbrushes (which isn't an issue, because, like I said before, she has no teeth), but what is the problem with hairbrushes and nail clippers? Now, I have heard about the nail clippers before. I always assumed that was a risk because sometimes people cut too short and can break the skin close to the nail. Right? But she keeps her nails long and never cuts them down all the way. So is that ok, or does your nails actually have trace amounts of blood in them that carry Hep C? And what could possibly be wrong with hair brushes? I mean, I don't have much hair and just use a comb, and she has her own brush she uses, but I was just curious about that one. Will have to talk to her about the cats. I have only been scratched maybe 2 or 3 times in the past year, and don't ever recall a time when she was scratched before me. But I was wondering, how long would the claws be infectious? Does anyone know if there is a time limit on how long Hep C blood can be infectious once it's out and on something (like claws, razors, clippers, etc.) I mean, what if she got scratched yesterday, and then me today. Or what if she got scratched say an hour before me. I assume that if I get scratched immediately afterwards, then I might be in trouble, but how long does the virus stick around on "sharp things". And about the mouth sores/bleeding gums, am I ok if my mouth or gums are not bleeding in any way? I don't have gingivitis or stomach ulcers or anything like that, so if the only way I can get this is if her blood comes in contact with mine, then shouldn't I be ok? And if it is contracted ONLY from blood-to-blood contact, then should any sex be ok as long as I have no bleeding sores or cuts "down there". I mean, we abstain from sex on her period all together, and the anal sex is on rare occasions, but it seems to me that she could be just bleeding out of every hols in her body and I would be safe as long as I'm not bleeding too, right? Also, when she first got tested and found out she had the virus, she tested possitive, but a follow-up test came out negative. She told me that the doc said something about just being a "carrier" of the virus. But she gets confused on things. I hear a lot on this site about "viral loads" and all this other stuff I don't really understand. But I think that she has the virus, but it is very low in her system. Does that make a difference? I know I have a lot of questions and plan to ask a real doc soon, but just wanted to get an idea of what to expect. Thanks you.
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Avatar_f_tn
is he around chev?

how's your liver?
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Avatar_n_tn
Now Ya'll behave...."NOT"

He's probably still trying to figure out how to get them WHALE Bones off the beach & up the cliff...LoL
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