View Full Version : How contagious are herpetic people when they're in virus shedding mode?

01-13-2005, 10:44 PM
Can you catch it by shaking hands with them, or sharing a sip of the same coffee?

01-13-2005, 11:33 PM
Can you catch it by shaking hands with them, or sharing a sip of the same coffee?

Wow...usually people just want to know about bumping uglies.

Actually, the virus is most commonly trasmitted by direct contact of mucosal membranes. In the case of "Cold Sores" this would be kissing, particularly the deep throaty tounge kind of kissing. In the case of genital herpes, by direct contact. The adventurous out there have more creative direct contacts...

Anyway, the virus itself is not really tough enough to survive long outside it's normal mucosal habitat. So, to answer your question:

1) Practically speaking, no, you cannot get it by shaking hands. *CAVEAT* If the lucky infectious soul was to rub a weeping ulcer up and down with a hand, and then you were to shake hands with this person, and then you took that now wet hand of yours and rubbed it aggressively on your own mucous membranes (lips, tounge, cheeks, penis, vagina, whatever), then you could maybe get an infection. I would not recommend doing this, however, as it's kind of gross and should seem like an obviously bad idea.

2) The coffee cup. A little harder to say. The heat and acidity of the coffee are going to kill lots of virus. But if the infected person (assuming a lip/mouth infection) was leaving wet saliva on the cup edge and you were drinking straight from it that would be a better set up for a transmission.

Sharing a toothbrush is also not a good idea, as it's also wet and the virus could hang out there for a bit. Mostly this is common sense stuff.

Best thing to do is not touch your face during the day (where your exposed mucous membranes are) and wash your hands. That should protect you from 99.9% of the risk for normal exposure from dirty, filthy coworkers.