The Salt Lake City/County Health Department is warning Utahns that blood, needles and syringes should be considered hazardous and disposed of appropriately.
The department's caution was prompted by a second incident of a young man finding a needle and a syringe and being inadvertently stuck with the needle while horsing around with some friends."That young man is being immunized, and immunized, and immunized," said Dr. Harry L. Gibbons, department executive director.
Gibbons said certain measures of protection must be taken because of the hazard of hepatitis B and the possibility of AIDS contamination - especially with needles used by drug abusers.
When such a needle stick occurs, it becomes necessary to consider administering a series of three hepatitis B vaccine shots, along with a shot of hepatitis B globulin. Plus, as many as three AIDS tests may be necessary.
"Not only is it not much fun to get needle sticks seven times, but the cost of the shots and the tests may be as much as $400 to $500," Gibbons said. "The sleepless nights and the anxiety cannot be priced. The risk is usually low, but the precautions must be taken."