About Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is the name of a virus, as well as the disease caused by the virus. The hepatitis C virus is contagious in blood, and the disease it causes attacks the liver. Most people who are infected with hepatitis C retain the disease for their lifetimes, and the chronic form of the disease can lead to other serious liver problems, including cancer and cirrhosis, or liver scarring.
Hepatitis C in Dried Blood
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hepatitis C will remain contagious in dried blood for a minimum of 16 hours and a maximum of four days, given normal environmental circumstances. You should clean spots of dried blood known to contain the hepatitis C virus extremely carefully, but also as quickly as possible. It is best to clean these spots with a mixture of one part bleach to 10 parts water. Use disposable cleaning rags and disposable rubber gloves, and then bag them up and dispose of them carefully after cleaning up the blood.
Contracting the Disease Through Dried Blood
The chance of a person contracting hepatitis C through contact with infected dried blood is low, but you still should exercise caution when cleaning or near dried blood that is known to be infected or that could be infected. The circumstance that poses the highest risk of contracting the virus is exposure of fresh dried blood to an open wound of an uninfected person (a way this could happen would be cleaning dried blood without using gloves, and the blood entering an open cut on your hand).
What to Do in Case of Exposure
A person who may have been directly exposed to potentially infected dried blood should call 911 or go to an emergency room immediately. Depending on the circumstances of the exposure and how recently it occurred, doctors may be able to minimize the risk of contracting hepatitis C. A person can verify a case of hepatitis C infection by submitting to a simple blood test.