Dear Doctor, I took my 4 year old son to


Q: Dear Doctor,

I took my 4 year old son to see a naturopathic doctor today and he has done a finger prick test for food intolerance. I am a bit concerned about the finger prick test done today. I have noticed that the finger prick test was done by using a reusable fingerstick device (a lancet pen). The nurse did wipe the end cap with alcohol sterile pads and took out a new lancet. However I just did a quick google just now, and find out that CDC is against use of fingerstick devices on more than one person and said this could pose risk for transmitting bloodborne pathogens. However we are here in Hong Kong and the clinic has been doing the finger prick test using this lance pen. I am really panicking now. Please advise me what are the chances of the cross-contaminations and what is the possibility like that my son could have contracted a blood borne disease (HIV, HBV, HCV etc. ). In this case, is there any test to do or medicines to take?

Thanks a lot! I would really appreciate your professional advice!



A:   Hello, Welcome to Ask The Doctor. We are here to help you.

Yes, you are right. Any finger prick pens or devices should be best avoided when multiple people needs to be tested.
However, since the risk of transmission is mostly by a needle, and they always change the needle for a new person, so chances are very low, but in rare cases if the body of the lancet device is contaminated with the virus and if the body comes in contact with your blood then chances of transmission of infection are there.
In the case scenario of yours, there is no indication to take any treatment or do the testing as the risk of transmission is very low. The reason behind this is that the transmission mostly occurs through blood to blood contact and mostly the needle is contaminated with blood and it is always disposed and changed.
Moreover, there is no point in testing at this point as all the tests performed are antibody tests and these tests get positive only after 4-6 weeks of contact.
So, if you are very worried, you can get tested after 4-6 weeks but otherwise, there is no indication of testing or using prophylactic medicine.

I hope it helps.
If you have any further query, please ask me.
Stay Healthy.

Comments / Follow Ups

Patient: Hi, Doctor

Thanks for your advice, I am a bit relieved now.

In case there is some virus, say for example HCV virus, on the end cap of the lancet pen, which touches the finger during the pricking. Would the alcohol sterile pad be able wipe the virus off? Even if the there is a little bit of virus on the cap, what is the likelihood that he would catch it at the end of the day?

If I choose to do some testings, which tests do you think are worth doing and how long I should wait to do these tests so that we could get definitely conclusive results? Do I need to repeat some tests after the first round after a while?

Thank you very much for your time!
Doctor: Hello,
Usually the alcohol sterile pad is able to wipe off the virus , if present on the end cap. However, this can't be surely determined.
If you are too much worried, get following tests after 6 weeks:
1. Anti HCV Antibody
2. HBsAg
3. HIV 1 & 2
Good Luck.
Patient: Hi Doctor,

I really appreciate your advice and it is very clear. It has put my mind at ease. Since I can't see your background, is your specialty in this topic? I am sorry if this sounds offensive, I am very satisfied with your answers, this whole thing has just made me a bit stressed.

Thanks a lot!
Doctor: Hello, I am an Internal Medicine Specialist and yes, this is my topic, that is why the query has been directed to me.
Good Luck.

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