KELOWNA — Kelowna mother Emily Krebs says it all happened in a matter of moments.
Krebs was playing in her apartment’s yard in the middle of May with her young toddler, 17-month-old Xavier, when he found a used needle.
Krebs says she turned around for a split second to fetch a ball, but by the time she turned around, Xavier put the needle in his mouth and ear.
“We feel violated, scared, sad and angry because so much could’ve been prevented if there was word out there that there was needles,” says Krebs.
Her young son was rushed to the emergency room. Krebs is still waiting for test results to see if Xavier has a viral infection.
Due to the toddler’s age, the family must wait six months before he can be tested for HIV and hepatitis.
The day after the incident, Xavier began throwing up and appeared like he was convulsing. Nine days after, he’s lost almost six pounds and appears more tired than normal.
This weekend, Xavier threw up and Krebs believes it’s related to the contaminated needle.
It happened at an apartment complex owned by Kelson Group. Vice-President Jason Fawcett says needles have been found on the property in the past, but only in the parking lot.
He says staff regularly sweep the area, and the company didn’t feel the need to add notices.
“We believe that the needles that we did find have always been visible and we took care of it right away,” says Fawcette. “We didn’t believe that there was a risk to the residents and unfortunately, this young child found one that we couldn’t see.”
Krebs believes staff need to do a more thorough job and is collecting signatures of people in her building who feel the same way.
“I have nine signatures already saying they’ve seen garbage in the back for consecutive days, which means [the garbage is] not being picked up.”
Krebs is warning other parents that this can happen to anyone and hopes her story will encourage parents to check their yards and playgrounds.
If you find a needle
Interior Health suggests the safest thing to do to prevent yourself or others from being injured is to pick it up with protective gloves and using a pair of tongs, pliers, or tweezers while pointing the needle tip down and away from you.
If you are not comfortable picking up the needle, your community may have a service that can do this. Contact your local public health centre or municipal government office for more information.
Interior Health says the risk of HIV or hepatitis infection is low but you should always go see a doctor after touching a contaminated needle.