Health and Medicine Question #1388

Jennifer Easterly, a 23 year old female from Sydney, NS asks on April 11, 2003,

Can you contract diseases if someone's saliva gets in your eyes? A really disgusting thing happened to me the other day. I was walking down the street and there was a strong breeze. Two people walking in front of me were talking and all off a sudden this spray of spit hits me in the face and gets into my eyes. After the initial feeling of total disgust I started to worry about this guy's health. What if he had HIV, or some other contagious disease? Is it possible it get infected in this bizarre way?

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The answer

David Speert answered on April 13, 2003

It depends on the infectious agent. For HIV the answer appears to be no. For respiratory infectious agents, transmission does probably occur from respiratory tract to eye. [Editor: these might include bacterial agents like streptococcus which causes "strep throat" or conjunctivitis, "Pink Eye", or viral agents like those that cause the common cold. Chances are: your immune system will handle it.]

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