Saliva could spread hepatitis C

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Saliva, which often contains microscopic amounts of blood, could spread the liver-destroying hepatitis C virus (HCV), new research suggests.

The virus was found in 21% of saliva samples collected from 12 HCV-positive volunteers. Most often, it turned up in samples from those with the highest concentration of the virus in their blood and those with gum disease (which releases blood into saliva). "This is a bloodborne virus," says lead researcher Chia Wang, MD, of the University of Washington.

Kissing still seems safe, she says, but don't share toothbrushes (brushing can create tiny scratches in mouth tissue).

PHOTO (COLOR): Dangerous virus lurks in a new place

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By Ana Mantica

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