In the time it takes you to puncture your skin with a dirty needle, microorganisms enter the wound and look for an environment suitable for growth. A simple prick with a syringe can infect a person with tetanus, hepatitis and necrotizing fasciitis, known as the "flesh eating disease." The dangers associated with pricking the skin with a syringe needle can cause such devastation to a person's health that death is a possibility. The highest risk for infection is health care workers that deal with sharp objects on a daily basis. For that reason, certain protocols are in place to avoid accidents. Danger still exists for any person who comes in contact with a used syringe, including children. It is important for the general public to know how to avoid injury and what to do if one occurs.
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Clean-up projects sponsored by community organisations attempt to address trash on the streets, playgrounds and parks. Community volunteer projects that involve youth groups such as scouts, boys' and girls' clubs and church groups need safety protocols in place before activities begin. An important rule to follow is not to reach into a pile of trash or debris with your hands. It is not unusual to find dirty syringes among the debris. Always utilise a broom and dust pan. Protect feet by wearing boots. Gloves can't protect hands from pricks, but a double enforcement of industrial gloves over a pair of rubber gloves will keep liquids from seeping onto the skin. A coffee can serves well as a sharps container for any needles and syringes found.
Medical personnel are exposed to the dangers of needle syringe pricks every working day. Units that have a lot of activity such as emergency and operating rooms have a greater risk than other units. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 380,000 needle sticks occur each year in health facilities as of July, 2010. In addition to the transmission of human immunodeficiency virus or HIV, and hepatitis B and C, 20 other pathogens pose a risk to health care workers. Safety precautions include needle-locking syringes and disposable containers for sharps. Personnel are required to obtain vaccinations for hepatitis throughout the United States.
The CDC reported 3,932 new HIV cases in 2009 by intravenous drug users. New cases of drug users with AIDS were 4,942 for that year. Prevention to reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis among intravenous drug users includes needle exchange programs and education forums in high drug use neighbourhoods. In 2002 the CDC reported a 30 per cent reduction in drug-related HIV.
Arrange treatment for any needle prick containing an unknown substance or when used on another person. Take the syringe to the hospital with you. Wrap it in cloth and place it in a bag. Expect testing to confirm any exposure to hepatitis or HIV. You may also receive preventive treatment for tetanus. You will need to return or visit your doctor to repeat HIV testing in six months after injury.
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