It’s unlikely, but theoretically possible, for herpes to spread by sharing a straw or glassware.
You can get two types of herpes: HSV-1 (oral herpes) and HSV-2 (genital herpes). HSV-1, which shows up as cold sores on your mouth, is much more commonly transmitted than HSV-2.
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The most common symptom of herpes is a sore that can leak infected fluid. You can get herpes by physical contact with someone who has active sores, although in some cases sores don’t have to be present for transmission to occur.
In addition to saliva, the virus can also be present in other body fluids like genital secretions.
Someone with herpes who isn’t having an outbreak or doesn’t have active sores is extremely unlikely to spread the virus through a drink, glass, or straw.
Someone with an active outbreak on their mouth may spread herpes by leaving traces of saliva behind on dishware. But it’s still unlikely because the virus has a very short lifespan.
The chances of getting herpes from sharing a drink with someone who has herpes — even an active outbreak of herpes — is next to zero.
It’s always a good rule of thumb to avoid sharing glasses or dishware with others. Avoid sharing any dishware or other objects, like towels or silverware, with someone you don’t know or with someone you know has herpes, whether they have an active infection or not.
Herpes is primarily spread through direct physical contact. This can include oral-to-oral contact and oral, anal, or genital sex without a barrier method, such as condoms.
Active sores leaking infected fluid, which carries the viral material, are more likely to spread the infection. But a person doesn’t have to be experiencing an active outbreak to transmit the virus.
Some people show symptoms right after they get infected or a few months or years down the line. But not everyone shows symptoms: The virus can lie dormant in the body for years without causing an outbreak.
There are periods during the herpes virus outbreak cycle when the virus is more contagious. It’s more likely to be spread when:
- the infected area begins to feel itchy and uncomfortable (about 3 days before an outbreak)
- the sores are leaking infected fluid or otherwise open or moist (even if you don’t have any sexual contact)
breastfeeding with an open soreon the breast
- the virus is “shedding,” which doesn’t cause any symptoms
The amount of time that the herpes virus can live outside of the body can vary. It’s been estimated that it can be anywhere from a few hours up to a week.
Other myths exist about how herpes spreads. Here are some of the facts:
- You don’t have to have active, infected sores to spread herpes.
- You still have herpes even if you never have any symptoms — once you get a herpes infection, you have the virus in your body for life.
- You can get herpes if you have oral or anal sex, even if no fluids are shared.
- You can get herpes just from a kiss with someone who’s infected, even if they don’t have any symptoms or the kiss doesn’t involve any tongue.
- You can get herpes from sharing a sex toy that’s made contact with your genitals, anus, or mouth.
You’re unlikely to get herpes from sharing a drink, a straw, or a glass.
But you can get other infections or diseases from sharing objects with someone with an infection or disease, such as colds, the flu, and strep throat.
Here’s how you can help protect yourself from getting an infection:
- Ask for a clean glass if you get a dirty glass at a restaurant, cafeteria, or anywhere where dishware is shared, such as at your workplace.
- Clean any surface you plan to use before preparing food in case bacteria or viruses are present.
- Don’t mix chopping boards by chopping or preparing raw meat on the same board as vegetables or other foods that don’t need to be cooked.
- Wash your hands immediately after handling raw meat before you touch any other surfaces or foods, especially if you’re sick.
- Thoroughly clean any surface you used to prepare raw meat or other food that might be carrying bacteria or viruses.
It’s very rare ⁠— but possible — to spread herpes by sharing a drink, glass, or straw.
Be careful when sharing any kind of dishware that’s used in public places, and always wash anything you plan to put near your mouth if someone else may have used it.
Use barrier methods (condoms and oral dams) when you have oral, anal, or genital sex when you’re with a partner who may have herpes.