Animal Scratch

Question

Dear Mr. Kull,

I previously posted this question but never got a response...I hope it wasn't too dumb. I have two friends that have AIDS. I was visiting them 3 weeks ago and while I was there one of my friends took out his parrot. The parrot was walking around on his hand, which didn't worry me. What did worry me is when the parrot flipped upside down on his hand and fell and landed on the open part of my shirt and clawed me in several different places drawing blood. He claimed the parrot didn't scratch him, but I can't see how it didn't. especially with its sharp claws and flipping around his fingers. The next day he said he had suffered a cut, but it was from moving furniture the week before. My fear, is that it had a little bit of blood on its claws when it scratched me. His VL is around 400-600, which I hope is in my favor. Am I being paranoid? Is there any real risk. The CDC said no risk, but I can't see how they could say that...and a doctor told me a "risk". I value your opinion since you seem to be very upfront and knowledgeable with your responses.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration.

Answer

It is possible to get HIV infected if fresh blood containing HIV came into contact with your bloodstream or mucous membranes. Superficial scratches are probably not a reliable route for HIV transmission and the circumstances you describe would be an unusual way for HIV transmission to occur. There is a tiny risk for infection. Hopefully that makes you feel better.

One other thing: people with HIV infection should take certain precautions when handling their pets. While HIV cannot be transmitted to animals, certain infections can be transmitted from animals to immune compromised humans. Have your friends read through "Preventing Infections from Pets", published by the CDC (http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/pubs/brochure/oi_pets.htm).

RMK