A young girl is at low risk for contracting disease but is taking powerful drugs to fight off any risk of infection after she was stuck by a hypodermic needle while playing in a Boston park recently.
“I felt kinda [sic] scared," 7-year-old Cadence Epstein told WFXT News in a videotaped interview (shown below). “Because I knew it was a needle and it could have a disease on it.”
The day it happened, Cadence was playing in Iacono park as part of a summer day camp.
“My friend saw [the needle] on the ground, and he picked it up,” she told WCVB News. “He threw it to another boy, then he handed it to me and I pricked myself.”
Cadence described her injury to WFXT as “only a little pinch,” but it was enough to scare her and her loved ones. Her mother and grandmother rushed her to a nearby hospital.
“That girl bawled her eyes out,” her grandmother, Deborah Guinan, told WFXT. “Grabbing on to me the whole way to the hospital, saying ‘Grandma, I don't wanna [sic] die.’”
Cadence’s mother, Helen Epstein, said she was advised by doctors that her daughter’s chances of having contracted HIV from a single needle prick were low.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, healthcare workers stuck by a needle — what the CDC refers to as “occupational exposure” — have about a one-in-300 chance of contracting HIV from the needle prick. The risk for other diseases, such as Hepatitis B or C, are slightly higher, but still relatively low.
But Epstein said she wasn’t willing to take a chance, so she opted to put her daughter on powerful preventive drugs.
“My husband and I discussed it and we decided we were too nervous not to put the precautions in place,” she told WCVB.
That means a rough few days for Cadence as she takes the medication.
“I don't like it, and throwing up is one of the side effects,” she told WFXT.
The city has acknowledged that dirty needles littering public areas is a problem. Officials told WBZ News that cleanup crews have found more than 3,200 needles in the city since June.
A representative from Mayor Marty Walsh’s office said they are working on the problem.
“The reported incident at Iacono Playground is a tragedy, and while the City of Boston has launched comprehensive efforts to remove needles from our City’s parks, it is clear that there is more work to do,” the representative said in a written statement. “The Boston Parks Department strives to have clean, fun and safe spaces for all Boston’s residents and visitors to enjoy.”
A representative from the nonprofit group that runs the day camp Cadence was attending said staffers work to sweep play areas for needles on a regular basis and instruct attendees not to touch found needles.
Photo Credit: Screenshot from YouTube, WFXT News