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Forum Name: Viral Infections

Question: Mother being exposed to HEPATITIS C


 sh0rtnsw33tr2 - Thu Mar 20, 2008 5:35 pm

My mom is a nurse and she said she got someone's blood on her finger (around the cuticle area too) for like 5 minutes and didn't know it at first. The person had Hepatitis C. And now she's very paranoid and worried. She has really dry hands and fingers, so she thinks there was a cut there and she may have Hepatitis C now.

Her co-worker said she's been through all sorts of instances where she was exposed to blood for years, but she's fine.

My mom thinks that she may have cuts on her hands due to her dry skin. She washed her hands. She also put alcohol on her exposed finger several times to see if there was a cut. She never felt a sting, so no cut.

She wanted to see if she felt a sting if she put a cut on her leg. She didn't feel a sting. (I think she's forcing her mind to not feel a sting, causing her to worry).

I told her that it has to be a deep cut for the infected blood to enter her bloodstream and that she definitely would've felt a deep cut when she put alcohol on it.

She's a very worrisome person. And now I'm really getting worried, even though I believe she doesn't have Hepatitis C.

Can you please tell me what the odds are she may have Hepatitis C based on the situation? Do you think she may have it? I REALLY appreciate the help.
 Debbie Miller, RN - Fri Mar 21, 2008 1:41 pm

User avatar Hello,
The incubation period for hepatitis C ranges from 15 to 150 days with the average around 50 days. You didn't mention how long ago this exposure was. I assume you mean she knows the patient had hepatitis C and worries because she came in contact with the blood when not wearing gloves. If this is a particular patient and she knows she had not previously been infected with hepatitis C, she can be tested now and maybe even repeat the test at 150 days after the exposure. If she shows no hepatitis C by then she can assume she was not infected.

If she works in a facility and the exposure was reported as an incident, they will probably provide testing and I would encourage it for her peace of mind.

I would not rely on the alcohol test to determine if cuts are present but at least that would imply any abrasion she had would have been minimal and it would lessen the risk of blood to blood transmission of infection. (Additionally, as for sensitivity - legs have fewer nerve endings than fingers). Deep body fluids, IV exchanges, dirty needles, sexual contact, sharing toothbrushes when gums may bleed, etc. are the likely modes of transmission. Encourage your mother to always wear gloves when doing patient care or handling contaminated linens and supplies.

Best wishes to you both.

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