RE: CDC press release on "Safety Bulletin"

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From:"Tim Morken" <>
Date:Thu, 15 Apr 1999 20:51:51 EDT

The CDC put out a press release concerning the "needle" hoaxes on 
March 24 1999.

I have read on the Internet several stories about people getting stuck 
by needles in phone
                         booth coin returns, movie theater seats, and 
other places. One story said that CDC reported
                         similar incidents about improperly discarded 
needles and syringes. 

                                                        Are these 
stories true? 

                         CDC has received inquiries about a variety of 
reports or warnings about used needles left by
                         HIV-infected injection drug users in coin 
return slots of pay phones and movie theater seats. These
                         reports and warnings are being circulated on 
the Internet and by e-mail and fax. Some reports have
                         falsely indicated that CDC "confirmed" the 
presence of HIV in the needles. CDC has not tested such
                         needles nor has CDC confirmed the presence or 
absence of HIV in any sample related to these
                         rumors. The majority of these reports and 
warnings appear to have no foundation in fact. 

                         CDC recently was informed of one incident in 
Virginia of a needle stick from a small-gauge needle
                         (believed to be an insulin needle) in a coin 
return slot of a pay phone. The incident was investigated
                         by the local police department. Several days 
later, after a report of this police action appeared in the
                         local newspaper, a needle was found in a 
vending machine but did not cause a needle-stick injury. 

                         Discarded needles are sometimes found in the 
community outside of health care settings. These
                         needles are believed to have been discarded 
by persons who use insulin or are injection drug users.
                         Occasionally the "public" and certain groups 
of workers (e.g., sanitation workers or housekeeping
                         staff) may sustain needle-stick injuries 
involving inappropriately discarded needles. Needle-stick
                         injuries can transfer blood and blood-borne 
pathogens (e.g., hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV), but
                         the risk of transmission from discarded 
needles is extremely low. 

                         CDC does not recommend testing discarded 
needles to assess the presence or absence of infectious
                         agents in the needles. Management of exposed 
persons should be done on a case-by-case evaluation of
                         (1) the risk of a blood-borne pathogen 
infection in the source and (2) the nature of the injury.
                         Anyone who is injured from a needle stick in 
a community setting should contact their physician or
                         go to an emergency room as soon as possible. 
The injury should be reported to the local or state
                         health departments. CDC is not aware of any 
cases where HIV has been transmitted by a needle-stick
                         injury outside a health care setting. 

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