Transmission of hepatitis C by blood splash into conjunctiva in a nurse

Am J Infect Control. 2003 Dec;31(8):502-4. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2003.03.005.


The risk of transmission of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is an important problem for the health care worker. HCV transmission by blood splashing into eyes is very rare. In a hemodialyses department, a 23-year-old female nurse splashed blood from a patient who was anti-HCV positive into her eyes. She washed her eyes with water immediately and reported to the infection control department. She had never used intravenous drugs nor received transfusions. At the time of exposure, there was no abnormality in her laboratory tests. Her anti-HCV and HCV-RNA tests produced negative results. She was followed up for anti-HCV and alanine aminotransferase activity. After 6 months, she presented with sore throat, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and weight loss. She had icterus and hepatomegalia. In laboratory tests, alanine aminotransferase level was 504 U/L, aspartate aminotransferase level was 388 U/L, and anti-HCV and HCV-RNA tests produced positive findings. She was treated with interferon alfa-2a for a 1-year period. After treatment, an HCV-RNA test produced negative results and transaminase levels were normal. In conclusion, splashing blood from patients who are HCV positive into the face or eyes is a risk for health care workers. They should be educated to prevent a nosocomial acquisition of bloodborne infection and they should observe protective precautions.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alanine Transaminase / metabolism
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Conjunctiva / virology*
  • Cross Infection / drug therapy
  • Cross Infection / etiology*
  • Female
  • Hepacivirus / genetics
  • Hepacivirus / growth & development
  • Hepacivirus / immunology
  • Hepatitis C / drug therapy
  • Hepatitis C / etiology
  • Hepatitis C / transmission*
  • Hepatitis C Antibodies / blood
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Patient-to-Professional*
  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha / therapeutic use
  • Nurses
  • Occupational Diseases / drug therapy
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / virology
  • RNA, Viral / blood
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Risk Factors


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Hepatitis C Antibodies
  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha
  • RNA, Viral
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Alanine Transaminase