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12-year-old girl steps on dirty needle in West Virginia public housing complex

(WCHS)

HUNTINGTON, WV (WCHS/WVAH) — Walking through Marcum Terrace in Huntington with her mother, a 12-year-old girl found a hypodermic needle the hard way Monday when the tip buried into the sole of her foot.

The news was not surprising to long-term residents such as Paul Coleman and Jamal Turner.

"It would take 500 people a day to walk through here to pick up the needles," Coleman said.

Coleman said the housing development has more than its fair share of drug problems, but said most needles are left by people who don't live there.

"You have people from Kentucky and Ohio come to Marcum Terrace, park in the lots, do other drugs, and throw the needles in the parking lots," Coleman said.

The girl was taken to the hospital immediately for evaluation, which was a smart move, Cabell Huntington Health Department Physician Director Michael Kilkenny said.

"There are protocols for handling needle stick injuries depending on what kind of needle stick it was and where it happened," Kilkenny said.

HIV rates are at historic lows in West Virginia, and there has never been a reported case of HIV transfer because of a "found needle" injury, he said.

Kilkenny also said the infection rates are very low for the transfer of Hepatitis B or C.

"How reassured are you when you're the one that got stuck?" Kilkenny said.

While transfer is low for Hepatitis B or C, Huntington has the highest infection rate per capita in West Virginia, West Virginia has the highest rate in the nation, and roughly half of every tested drug user has been found to carry one of the diseases.

Turner said he hopes no one else gets stuck, but doesn't have much confidence that it won't happen again.

"It's real bad out here," Turner said. "I don't think it's going to get no better. It's just going to get worse."

Vickie Lester with the Huntington West Virginia Housing Authority said the authority has blocked paths between buildings, put up several new cameras, and its in the early stages of putting needle disposal boxes into several locations at Marcum Terrace to cut down on trafficking and drug use.

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