Trash Talk: Bathrooms and Herpes?

Almost a year ago, during the last term of high school, a friend of mine and I had gotten out of class and we were waiting for her ride to arrive, making idle chit-chat. She made a comment about having to pee badly and I asked her why she didn’t go use the bathroom. Her reply: “Uh, no, I don’t use public restrooms because I could catch herpes.”

Excuse me? Herpes from a toilet? What is this madness? “I had to write a paper on herpes, and I found out that the bacteria for herpes could survive for quite a while on a toilet,” she said; or about as close as I can remember it. My initial thoughts were “…Someone’s wearing a tin foil hat…”

This happened almost a year ago, and the only reason it’s bothering me now is because last week, when I entered a public restroom, the stall I chose just bothered me greatly. I pee’d as fast as I could and tried not to run out because it reminded me of what she said. Since then, this idea of being able to catch herpes via a toilet has bothered me simply because I’m not too sure about the facts and the truth behind this.

So I researched it. And one of  the first things that comes up on google when searching “Can you catch herpes from a toilet seat?” is from the site mayoclinic.com, which is a rather nice site to use for medical research (I’d like to thank my Health 2 instructor for bringing this site to my attention when I took my last health credit senior year). The short blurb answering the question “Can you get genital herpes from a toilet seat?” clearly states that it is nearly impossible. Rest assured, everyone, your private goods are safe from the toilet-STD team.

Wait a minute! The article says nearly impossible. Nearly?! So there’s still that off-chance that I could get herpes from sitting on a toilet? Well, according to the blurb and my own skills of putting two and two together (which can, I admit, manage to equal five sometimes), it could be possible. But what the hell are the chances, exactly, that you’d get herpes from a toilet? Probably less than 0.1 percent. Probably less than 0.01 percent. Other sites have suggested that the only way it could happen is if the virus was in a space where moisture and temperature stay at a moderate rate that keeps the fragile virus alive. Since the virus is so fragile, though, it generally dies pretty quickly when exposed.

So basically, what I read and gathered from the sites I used to track down information (which will be listed below!), there’s really nothing to fear about potentially catching herpes from a toilet. This, in truth, makes me feel a little better about using public restrooms now, but it may still be a good idea to carry around a can of Lysol to spritz the seat beforehand!

Sources:

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