Toronto

Girl, 5, doing well after pricking herself with discarded needles

A senior kindergarten student who pricked herself with discarded needles has completed preventative medical treatment and is doing well. Toronto Public Health says getting infected by discarded needles is "extremely unlikely" but it's still important to talk to kids about needle safety.

Risk of infections low, but parents should alert kids to danger, Toronto Public Health says

Lily Slater, 5, underwent a month of intensive medical treatment starting in September after pricking her hand with discarded needles while at school. (Mehrdad Nazarahari/ CBC Toronto)

A senior kindergarten student who pricked herself with discarded needles while at school has finished preventative medical treatment and is doing well.

Lily Slater, 5, underwent 28 days of antivirals to protect against possible infection of Hepatitis B and HIV at the start of the school year.

"The chance of her being exposed to that was so, so low,"  said her mom Amy from their living room in Roncesvalles.

"You have to give it to her anyway because there's still a chance, right?" 

According to Toronto Public Health, the transmission of diseases through discarded needles is "extremely unlikely."

Globally, there are no recorded instances of HIV being transmitted by a discarded needle, and only five cases where a form of hepatitis was transmitted.

Lily Slater, 5, back in early September, stands in front of her school where she and three friends stumbled across used syringes. (Shannon Martin/CBC)

'Overwhelming response' to girl's story

It was Sept. 5 when Lily and two friends stumbled across the syringes at St. Vincent De Paul Catholic School, an elementary school in Toronto's west end, near Roncesvalles Avenue and Dundas Street West. 

At the time, a police spokesperson said it did not appear they were injured, but all three children, aged five, were treated at a hospital. 

"I was surprised by the overwhelming response the story had," said Slater, who also wrote about what happened on Facebook.

Her post was shared more than 30,000 times. 

Amy Slater says she felt it was important to share her daughter's story to encourage parents and caregivers to speak to their kids about the dangers of needles. (Amy Slater/Facebook )

"It's easy to point fingers when you are feeling angry. The thing I could've done is prepared [her daughter] for that moment," said Slater. 

"I did not prepare her for that moment. And that's the lesson, not to be afraid to talk to your kids about things that are scary, especially if it's going to protect them."

In an email to CBC Toronto, a spokesperson for the Toronto Catholic District School Board said 'custodial staff are continuing to scan the school property daily for any potentially harmful objects.' (Shannon Martin/CBC)

Talk to your kids about needle safety: Toronto Public Health

It's a message echoed by Toronto Public Health. 

Dr. Rita Shahin, who specializes in harm reduction, says it's never too early to talk to kids about needle safety. She says, depending on the child, it might be a good idea to show pictures.

"Talk to them about not picking up anything that's not their own toy," she said.

"Talk to them about needles and sharp objects, if you feel comfortable, and about reporting it, about not picking it up or playing with it as well."

Lily Slater says if other kids could learn anything from her story, she says the most important thing is "not touching needles."

Dr. Rita Shahin, with Toronto Public Health, says not every child or adult who has an injury from a discarded needle undergoes treatment for HIV. She says the the virus is highly unlikely to survive on a discarded needle, especially in an environment such as a park. (Grant Linton/ CBC Toronto)

School board steps up security

In an email to CBC Toronto, a spokesperson for the Toronto Catholic District School Board said it's not aware of any further incidents of syringes being found, and custodial staff continue to do regularly sweeps of school property.

The board has also stepped up security.

"The safety and well-being of our students and staff is deeply important to us. That's why security personnel have been assigned to do nightly inspections of the school grounds until further notice." 

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