Constant fear of transmitting the virus

Hi.
My virus load is high. I don’t remember the exact number but it was like this ever since.

Recently, I started a new job. And I shared my computer with my new colleague as hers broke down. I had a damaged skin near my nail. But there was no blood visible. See pictures.

But once I read something that really stuck in my mind. Namely, the hep B virus is really resistant, it’s several times smaller than HIV and can be transmitted more easily. Even when you can’t see the blood with a naked eye. I also assume that a regular hand sanitizer doesn’t kill the virus.

For this reason, I live in agonising fear that I may infect someone unwillingly.

Like in that case, what if a virus from my damaged epidermis got into my colleague’s body? I didn’t examine if she had some cuts on hear fingers. It would be awkward. Likewise, it would be strange to inform everyone at my new work that I’m hepB-positive.
Was there a possibility that a very small amount of blood (that I couldn’t see) with viruses moved with sweat for example or any other way and infected her?

I have many situations like this (someone touching my mouse, keys, cups, chargers, or I touching someone’s, pressing the door handles etc). Seriously, this agonising fear is more than I can bear. That time, I had couching but couldn’t focus on anything my instructor said because I was analysing in my mind the risk of transmission… :tired_face:



Dear @Arb,

To directly address your worries, there is very very low chance that such a small amount of blood (trace and invisible) could transmit to your colleague.

Yes, Hep B is more resistant than some other viruses, but it is still susceptible to microbicides including alcohol-based hand rubs: High Environmental Stability of Hepatitis B Virus and Inactivation Requirements for Chemical Biocides
"All hand disinfectants demonstrated virucidal activity at the ready-to-use concentration and inactivated HBV to undetectable levels "

I am not sure there has ever been a transmission event between adults recorded with such a low level amount of fluid. Also remember that the great majority of adults will clear the infection without any issue (or are vaccinated so this isn’t a problem), even more so if the initial infectious dose is low.

You might want to consider using hand lotion, so your skin is less likely to crack (this may be due to all the alcoholic hand-rub we all use now drying out your skin) and also using a band-aid to cover your wounds (which would also help limit any small risk of transmission).

Hope this helps,
Thomas

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Hello Dr Thomas,

But doesn’t WHO say Hep B is stable for 7 days on surfaces ?

Hi @AJK,

Coincidentally, I met the man who first published this work showing this data (Brian McMahon) at the conference in Mexico. He worked with rural Alaskan communities, showing that HBV was really prevalent in these areas and causing a lot of childhood liver cancers.

He also found that it was the reason a lot of people were getting it was being exposed through the environment growing up. The virus could be detected on all sorts of surfaces particularly in schools because it was so prevalent and the children were generally in immune tolerant phase (very very high viral loads). To test that the virus was still infectious (and not just inactivated forms of the virus being detected), they added a large drop of blood from someone with high viral load on a glass slide and left it by the window sill for 7 days. Then they reconstituted the dried drop of blood in water and injected it into a chimpanzee, which then was acutely infected. This showed that there was still viable virus there.

If you did the same with HIV or HCV, you wouldn’t see infection, so that’s where this idea of highly stable virus comes from. However, this is not the way people are generally infected. Noone is reconstituting drops of blood and injecting it into people (who are highly susceptible like chimpanzees). The following factors make it very unlikely that you would transmit the virus to coworkers:

  • Very small amounts of blood
  • Lower viral load because you are an adult
  • Less-susceptible adults being exposed
  • Many people being vaccinated against HBV in the community
  • The fact you are constantly cleaning common surfaces
  • The fact that people are not likely to inject this stuff into their veins (they need to have a break in their skin to be exposed to any virus on the surfaces).

Basically, the way they showed that HBV is stable on surfaces is quite different from what happens in real life situations. It is something to be aware of but in the instances you are describing, there is low risk.

Hope this helps,
Thomas

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Thanks for the information @ThomasTu

Just out of curiosity, why this was only tried for 7 days and not for longer time intervals like 14, 21 and 28 days and so on to see how long the virus remain infectious on surfaces?
Basically, I would like to know how long it is stable on common surfaces at RT ?
Like in my case, I am still scared of touching my bike/ car keys, personal care items, couch etc which I used to use during last six months as I fear of spreading the virus if it is there (not sure it’s there but it maybe :zipper_mouth_face:,)…how should I go about it…I am not using my bike and car for last 3 months … would you believe this ? ( I had cracks on my skin 4 months back due to excess hand washing).

You
Scared to touch your bike or drive your own car. Afraid to sit on your couch? Now you just sound like you are trolling.

I understand the fear to a certain point, but to be scared to touch your own car keys but yet swallow your own saliva and swallow the food you chewed or drink the water in your mouth???

I think you are over thinking it all.

Hello @NeptuneJ I think you missed the point. I am not scared for myself but others. I don’t wish to spread it (if it is there) because now I want the family and other people to move freely in the house. So scared to use things that I used to use. Pls try to understand.
Maybe I am overthinking but clear answers to this will only help me getting peace of mind.

These experiments are complicated and cost a lot of time and effort, so only day 7 was chosen as most other viruses would have been inactivated by then. While the virus is comparatively stable, I’m not sure that it is realistic that viruses would be infectious after several months at room temperature.

To put the risk into perspective, I have personally known (some on this forum) people who had lived with their partners for decades (without knowing they had hep B) and even had children with them without transmitting. These short casual contacts that you’re describing really are not an efficient form of transmission, particularly as you had an acute infection (so were not likely to have been infectious for very long).

I hope this helps,
Thomas

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Thanks Dr @ThomasTu

Thanks you Dr @ThomasTu but I think we would have idea about it today had this experiment was extended to include longer time intervals. Right now we are just assuming… isn’t it…we exactly don’t know how long this virus survives on surfaces except that it remains infectious for at least 7 days!!

This is so good to read. Thanks for sharing.

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Dear @AJK,

Given the ban on any new experiments on chimpanzees now in place, no-one can really do these studies any more.

Your post does remind me however of a cell culture experiment performed recently (https://academic.oup.com/jid/article/219/7/1044/5144374). Here, the scientists used a cell culture model to see how infectious the virus was after various treatments. One was measuring how infectious the virus stayed after many days after storage at 4, 21 and 37 degrees. After 30 days, the virus stored at 4 degrees did not change, at 21 degrees (room temperature) it reduced to 90%, and 37 degrees it reduced to 25%. It is important to note however that this was not on a dried surface, the virus was instead stored in a tube in liquid. So, we don’t know how it performs in the real world really.

The other important thing about this paper is the sensitivity of HBV to different detergents and alcohols. Ethanol at 60% or over and Propyl alcohol at 40% or over can inactivate HBV within 1 minute. This is a common component of hand-rubs. Disinfectants also work really well. So really, it sounds like you have done all you can to minimize any risk. These results would give me peace of mind.

Hope this helps,
Thomas

This changes everything. Not applicable to real world, I think.
Anyway, Thank you so much for making us aware of things we don’t know.
New year wishesh to you :bouquet:

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Hello @ThomasTu @john.tavis
As this study says virus stored in a liquid media reduces it’s infectivity by 75% at 37 degrees in a month, can we apply the same logic to HepB virus present in semen? (As bodys temperature is also 37 degrees) …

As far as I understand it, semen is not really stored by the body, but instead is made when it’s needed by the seminal vesicles (any @healthexperts with more knowledge of physiology please feel free to confirm or correct this). So if you have cleared HBV from your blood, your semen should not contain any virus.

Thomas

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Hi Thomas, this thread should be separated and made into its own category about “How transmissible if HBV - Myths and Facts.” You’ve answered all AJK’s questions with the science and in a manner that the average person can understand. That’s quite a feat! But seriously, these are common questions and your answers are very helpful! Thanks so much for taking the time to be available!! It’s not usual to have such a well-trained scientist able to answer our questions. Always, Joan

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Ok. Not semen but seminal fluid that comes out from seminal vesicles. Isn’t it stored therein…

I do not believe so.

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