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Hep C exposure
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Hep C exposure

Hi, I am a police officer and I recently came into contact with a suspect who was Hep C positive. It was a domestic violence call where I placed the male in handcuffs and did not have gloves on. I did not initially see blood on the males hands, however I noticed he had an open soar and blood on his hands when I removed him from my patrol vehicle. I did not see any blood on my hands after the contact but I know I touched his hands. Also I had a small scrape/open cut on the inside of my left pointer finger. Is it possible I could have contracted the virus through this contact? SHould I get tested? What are the chances I could have gotten Hep C? I'm stressing out about this and any info is greatly appreciated.
18 Comments Post a Comment
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1822306_tn?1330526229
Many here know much more than I but from my experience I would say it is doubtful you would get Hep C this way. I've had it over 30 years (didn't know until last year), have three kids, and married to the same woman all this time and she nor anyone in my family has it. We've shared razors, etc for many years.  Good luck.
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Avatar_m_tn
Jak is probably correct but no matter what anyone posts here, you won't feel comfortable until you get tested a few times.  And no, you can't go out tomorrow and get tested for a possible infection last week.  My recc...get tested in 6 months and in 12 months.  That's the only way to feel confident you don't have it.  From there you really should be tested for Hep and HIV yearly, especially in your line of work.
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Avatar_f_tn
HCV is a blood to blood contact virus, so it is possible that you could have come in contact with the virus.  You should get tested to be safe.  Wait for a few weeks after the incident, then go.  you are probably ok, but better safe than sorry, make an appt with your doc.

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862235_tn?1336063895
You should wait for 6 months and get tested for the HCV antibodies if it comes back negative you probably have not been infected. Wait another 6 months and get tested again just to be sure. If either test comes back positive it means that you have had the virus in your bloodstream but you may have cleared the virus yourself. Discuss with a hepatologist and get a viral PCR to determine if the virus is actually present in you bloodstream. The chances of becoming infected by the means you've described are minimal.
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1747881_tn?1358189534
Who should be tested for HCV infection?
HCV testing is recommended for anyone at increased risk for HCV infection, including:

•Persons who have ever injected illegal drugs, including those who injected only once many years ago
•Recipients of clotting factor concentrates made before 1987
•Recipients of blood transfusions or solid organ transplants before July 1992
•Patients who have ever received long-term hemodialysis treatment
•Persons with known exposures to HCV, such as
health care workers after needlesticks involving HCV-positive blood
recipients of blood or organs from a donor who later tested HCV-positive
•All persons with HIV infection
•Patients with signs or symptoms of liver disease (e.g., abnormal liver enzyme tests)
•Children born to HCV-positive mothers (to avoid detecting maternal antibody, these children should not be tested before age 18 months)

What blood tests are used to detect HCV infection?
Several blood tests are performed to test for HCV infection, including:

•Screening tests for antibody to HCV (anti-HCV)
◦enzyme immunoassay (EIA)
◦enhanced chemiluminescence immunoassay (CIA)
•Recombinant immunoblot assay (RIBA)
•Qualitative tests to detect presence or absence of virus (HCV RNA polymerase chain reaction [PCR])
•Quantitative tests to detect amount (titer) of virus (HCV RNA PCR)

How soon after exposure to HCV can anti-HCV be detected?
HCV infection can be detected by anti-HCV screening tests (enzyme immunoassay) 4–10 weeks after infection. Anti-HCV can be detected in >97% of persons by 6 months after exposure.

How soon after exposure to HCV can HCV RNA be detected by PCR?
HCV RNA appears in blood and can be detected as early as 2–3 weeks after infection.

http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/HCV/HCVfaq.htm#c5
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766573_tn?1365170066
Though transmission seems unlikely based on what you said I agree with the others in that you may as well get tested. Further, if you have not done so already you may want to consider getting vaccinated for Hepatitis A & B. I'm not sure you are exactly in what is considered a 'high risk' profession but in this day age I would do it if it were me.
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446474_tn?1404424777
Hi. These two articles should help you understand the chance of infection and how long you should wait to get tested.
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http://liverdisease.com/transmissionhcv.html

"Health-Care and Occupational Exposure

Anyone who works in a health-care facility, including a hospital, doctor’s office, dentist’s office, or in a laboratory that handles blood specimens, is at risk of contracting HCV. Public safety workers, such as firemen, police officers and correction officers, as well as emergency medical technicians, may be exposed to blood due to the nature of their jobs and, therefore, are also at risk for becoming infected with HCV. The virus may be transmitted through a needle stick injury, a blood spill, or through pricking oneself with a contaminated sharp instrument. The larger the amount of contaminated blood that enters a person’s body, the higher the likelihood she will become infected.

After a single incident of accidental exposure to HCV (hepatitis C), the risk of contracting HCV is approximately 2 percent—although this probability has been reported to range between 0 and 16 percent.

For comparison, the probability of contracting HBV (hepatitis B) by this route is 15 to 30 percent and for contracting HIV it is 0.3 percent.

Even with the potential risk to health-care workers due to the nature of their profession, the prevalence of HCV infection among this group of professionals is actually about the same as that of the general population, which is 1 to 2 percent."
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http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/HCV/HCVfaq.htm#section3

How soon after exposure to HCV can anti-HCV be detected?
HCV infection can be detected by anti-HCV screening tests (enzyme immunoassay) 4–10 weeks after infection. Anti-HCV can be detected in >97% of persons by 6 months after exposure.

How soon after exposure to HCV can HCV RNA be detected by PCR?
HCV RNA appears in blood and can be detected as early as 2–3 weeks after infection.

Under what circumstances is a false-positive anti-HCV test result likely?
False-positive anti-HCV tests appear more often when persons at low risk for HCV infection (e.g., blood donors) are tested. Therefore, it is important to confirm a positive anti-HCV test with a supplemental test, such as RIBA (recombinant immunoblot assay), as most false positive anti-HCV tests are reported as negative on supplemental testing. More information is available from the Guidelines for Laboratory Testing and Result Reporting of Antibody to Hepatitis C Virus.

Under what circumstances might a false-negative anti-HCV test result occur?
Persons with early HCV infection might not yet have developed antibody levels high enough that the test can measure. In addition, some persons might lack the (immune) response necessary for the test to work well. In these persons, further testing such as PCR for HCV RNA may be considered.

Best of luck to you!

Hector
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Avatar_m_tn
thanks to all for quick response. I will definitely be getting tested in the future. It makes me nervous because I am recently married and I would hate to pass anything on to my wife.
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Avatar_m_tn
Just as a follow up to the good advice you recieved above. HCV is not considered a STD and the incidence of sexual transmission is extremely low amongst heterosexually couples.

Good luck with your test and from the scenario you describe the risk is very low,
Will

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15128350

"data indicate that the risk of sexual transmission of HCV within heterosexual monogamous couples is extremely low or even null. No general recommendations for condom use seem required for individuals in monogamous partnerships with HCV-infected partners."
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Avatar_m_tn
"heterosexual "
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Avatar_f_tn
My Doctor says if you can catch Hep C when it is in the "acute phase" (which is WITHIN a 6 month time period) then it is easier to get rid of, and this is what they treat it with, or they may have something newer, because they are making great strides in Hep C cure as of late, and I got this imfo from an older article~
  Treatment of acute hepatitis C with interferon alfa-2b prevents chronic infection.

  So, you could get a baseline test, 3~6 weeks from now, and then a final test at 5 months, and if your body hadn't fought it off on it's on (it sometimes will, I think 20% of the time) then you could take that treatment.
   Maybe it should be standard procedure to put your gloves on, before that kind of physical contact. I work with disabled people, doing personal care, and always wear my gloves.
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1815939_tn?1377995399
"Maybe it should be standard procedure to put your gloves on, before that kind of physical contact."
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It most likely is standard procedure to put gloves on if there is a possibility of exposure. That is the best option . However, not every situation is a "standard" situation, especially if a person works in law enforcement.
Most officers are not going to take the time to put gloves on while the suspect gets away.
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Avatar_f_tn
  I have been noticing lots more discarded purple or green gloves around, after  police arrests have occured, in my neighborhood. I live near Oakland, where we have alot of violence, and a fairly high statistic of people having Hep C.
   The more education for our Peace Officers, the better. People getting arrested or 5150'ed may bite, scratch, have used syringes in their pockets, etc  I'm wondering if they have a more heavy duty glove to wear, while searching thru pockets~
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Avatar_m_tn
In spite of the thread being closed to more replies I thought I would add my 2 cents.  : )

I agree with what the others have said, posted.

I would make sure that you reported the incident.  I would then immediately get scheduled for a baseline test before you would normally develop antibodies.

Lets say for instance that (worst case scenario) that you were to acquire an infection and die or become disabled.  You may need to be able to prove that this was service related.  You don't want to end up in a situation where you are denied any type of benefits because you cannot prove it was service related.  For this reason I believe that there should be baseline tests at employment start, and testing with exposures.

Having said that, your risk is quite low.  Most of these type exposures turn out to not transmit, but to provide a good wake up call.

Most of us were in relationships for decades unknowing we were infected and did not transmit the virus to our loved ones.

DO get tested; you'll need and IMMEDIATE test (baseline) and a followup after a month or so after which you would have developed antibodies. (unless the protocol on service related exposures a PCR would be more definitive).

Once you get your results you'll sleep better.  Sometimes not knowing is as bad as knowing..: )

take care,
Willy
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Avatar_m_tn
I agree with the other posters here that what happened to you is minimal risk of infection.   However, if you are anything like me, even the small percentage chance can weigh on your mind.   You might have to order it yourself through one of the on-line testing services, but you can get a PCR DNA Qualitative test done after three weeks that will give you some piece of mind.  This test looks for the virus itself (instead of the antibody test that you need to wait 3 months to take).   Later on, you can take the antibody test to get full confirmation.

And I also agree that you should report this to your chain of command and also get a good pair of tactical (fluid and sharp-proof) gloves to wear the next time you run into this type of situaton.  I know being a police officer is a stressful job and this isn't helping, so do what you can to ease your mind.
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Avatar_m_tn
I would get tested after about 6 months and as BoceprevirGal noted.... It is curable!   I went through the interferon treatment 6 years ago and have been HepC free ever since.  Also note that Hep C is tagged as a "sexual" disease and this is not really the case.  It is more a blood to blood disease to be more accurate.   I was infected by sharing cocaine straws believe it or not.  Cocaine destroys the lining in the nose and when you are sharing a straw with someone else....well...... guess what.   Blood to blood no matter how tiny the amount.
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Avatar_f_tn
According to one of  the Hepatologists at the UAB Liver Center, hepatitis is contracted with a needle stick injection, blood transfusion , or I.V. drug use.  I am a former nurse (no longer practicing for 20 years now) and contracted Hep C with a needle stick injection.  I doubt that you have contracted Hep. C. the way that you described here on the forum. Don"t stress about it.  Relax and thank you for your work to help keep your community safe.   VioletBlonde
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Avatar_f_tn
According to one of  the Hepatologists at the UAB Liver Center, hepatitis is contracted with a needle stick injection, blood transfusion , or I.V. drug use.  I am a former nurse (no longer practicing for 20 years now) and contracted Hep C with a needle stick injection.  I doubt that you have contracted Hep. C. the way that you described here on the forum. Don"t stress about it.  Relax and thank you for your work to help keep your community safe.   VioletBlonde
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