Transmission of hepatitis C virus by needle-stick injury in community settings

J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2007 Nov;22(11):1882-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1746.2006.04568.x.


Background: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is predominantly transmitted by blood-to-blood contact, typically by sharing of needles by injecting drug users. Discarded needles could act as a vector for transmission of this infection.

Methods: Two cases of HCV seroconversion following a needle-stick injury in a community setting were identified. The effects of specimen processing and storage conditions on detection of HCV RNA were assessed to provide information about the likelihood of discarded needles containing infectious HCV.

Results: Consistent with a role for discarded needles in viral transmission, in vitro studies demonstrated that viral load declined by less than one log following storage for 24 h.

Conclusion: All needle-stick injuries should be promptly investigated by serology and HCV-PCR.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Accidents*
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Female
  • Hepacivirus / genetics
  • Hepacivirus / growth & development
  • Hepacivirus / isolation & purification*
  • Hepatitis C / diagnosis
  • Hepatitis C / physiopathology
  • Hepatitis C / transmission*
  • Hepatitis C Antibodies / blood*
  • Humans
  • Liver Function Tests
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needles / virology*
  • Needlestick Injuries / physiopathology
  • Needlestick Injuries / virology*
  • RNA, Viral / isolation & purification*
  • Specimen Handling
  • Time Factors


  • Hepatitis C Antibodies
  • RNA, Viral