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Synovial fluid Eye splash
Aug 29, 2004

Hi, I'm a research lab tech and am very scared about a recent incident. Can you tell me what my risk is? I was pipetting infected synovial fluid (HIV status unknown)and some of the cells/fluid got in my eye. The sample had a low WBC count (42).

I'm wondering what my risk is from this sample (I'm actually very scared). The synovial fluid sample had been in the freezer (-80 just in a syringe (no preservatives) for over four years and had been thawed a couple of times. Could HIV/Hepatitis survive under these conditions?

Less than 48 hours after the incident I started having a severe headache, fever, and sore throat.

I did report the incident and will get checked, but can you tell me what my risk is? Do my symptoms mean that I could have gotten HIV? (I know I have to wait 3 months). Could the virus have survived in the freezer? Also, is there anyway to test a synovial fluid sample (I have more) for HIV? (they told me they didn't know how at my job). Thank you very much. I hope you can answer.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

Your risk from this episode is extremely minimal. Symptoms within 48 hours of a potential exposure would not be related to HIV.

Yes, it's always essential to report all potential occupational exposures, so you can be monitored appropriately. Yes, synovial fluid can be screened for HIV. Your lab should contact a local HIV physician specialist if they are uncertain how to evaluate and/or monitor your potential exposure. But try not to worry, as your risk really is nearly negligible.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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