Testing times following needle-stick injury2005-05-10
By DIANA COZADINOS
Tuesday, 10 May 2005
THE thoughtlessness of a drug-user has forced a Bay resident into a nightmarish waiting game after he stepped on a needle on Denhams Beach last week.
As the sun was setting last Wednesday, Ian Fogarty walked barefooted onto the beach for his daily run.
He was walking through the soft sand, about 20 metres from the carpark, towards the harder wet sand when he felt the jab in his foot.
Looking down in the fading light, Ian was horrified to see a needle sticking out.
"My first reaction was 'what the ....?" he said.
"It was scary more than anything; the unknown, what was in the needle, how long had it been there?"
Mr Fogarty said it had never occurred to him to wear shoes to the beach in the five months since he moved to Denhams Beach.
"I see people on the beach with shoes and I think they're silly; the first thing kids do when they get to the beach is kick off their shoes."
From the angle at which the needle was bent, it had been buried under the sand. Mr Fogarty described the needle's owner as careless.
"There's not just adults, there's kids running on to the beach - [the owner is] just irresponsible."
Nurses at Batemans Bay hospital were quick to reassure Mr Fogarty about the low chances of contracting anything from the needle and he was told by someone else it was a one in 10,000 possibility.
An initial test will only reveal if he had any diseases prior to the incident.
He will again be tested at three, six and nine months, with the next two tests the most crucial ones.
Mr Fogarty said he was told by a council official that there was no management plan in place, as required under the Local Government Act, for the cleaning and maintenance of beaches to prevent experiences like his.
A council spokesperson said, however, they had in place a Work Method Statement regarding the collecting, handling and disposal of syringes after they were found.
The discovery of needles on beaches was extremely rare, she said, with the majority found in public toilets and disposal boxes had now been installed in those.
If Mr Fogarty has contracted anything, it will most likely be hepatitis, as HIV only lasts for a short period out of the body.
In the meantime, he will continue to live his life, albeit a little more cautiously.
"You've just got to get on with it," he said.