Cleaning up someone else's blood

Patient

Q: The repairman came to my apartment to replace my washing machine. He had a cut on his index finger that was bandaged; but, when he moved the washing machine, blood came out of the side of the bandage and streaked a pretty wide smear of blood across the washing machine.

I called him out on this, but he continued working. He took the old washing machine out, put a new washing machine in, and installed it, all the while, opening and closing doors. He injured himself a second time before finishing up.

As he left, he handed me an instruction manual wrapped; in plastic.

I had no cleaning supplies at home, so I had to leave, closing the door as I left. I then grasped and touched all different parts of my car in driving to the store to get bleach to clean the washing machine and doors. I did not clean my car.

I picked up the instruction manual, turned it over, and noticed there was MORE blood on it. I have reported him to my apartment complex now; but, the new blood makes me curious and a bit scared. I may have touched that blood before touching my computer. I wiped my computer keyboard down with 99% isopropyl alcohol.

Long story, but I wanted to paint the picture of my situation. Several questions:

Is the 99% isopropyl alcohol sufficient for killing effectively every bloodborn illeness that I'm likely to get in contact with, to the point that you would use the computer again after a rubbing down? (I waited 2 or 3 minutes before using the computer again). I'm most worried about random blood born pathogens, including HIV.

Should I have worried about the door knobs that he gripped / etc? What about my car? The wallet and credit cards I used to pay for the cleaning supplies with?

What about the knobs for turning on and off the water in the kitchen and bathrooms? I feel like I have a bit of a chicken and egg problem with them.

This is probably a bit OCD and over-cautious, but please help, I feel violated...

Thanks

Doctor

A:   Thank you for your question.

Although I can understand how the situation can be distressing, it is important to understand how blood borne pathogens are transmitted. The Viral diseases that we worry about, such as HIV and Hepatitis C, are transmitted by direct contact when there is a break in the skin. Generally speaking, when you are exposed to bodily fluids, and you do not have any cuts or open wounds, there is a very minimal if any risk of any disease transmission. Even in the presence of an open wound, the transmission rates are still quite low. The exposure you described would be considered very low risk. Also, you have managed the situation appropriately by appyling alcohol to the areas to disinfect.

To answer your direct questions, Isopropyl alcohol may not be 100% effective at killing all blood borne pathogens, but is the best approach to clean the surfaces in question. There should be no concern with using your computer. The remaining surfaces in your home (door knobs and taps) can also be wiped clean with the isopropyl alcohol to disinfect.

In conclusion, your risk as described is extremely low. The only further reassurance that can be provided is testing of blood borne pathogens.

I hope this was beneficial to you.

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