Reused needles at Scarborough health fair

Published On April 3, 2018 | By Vrajesh Dave | News

Scarborough Village Community Centre.

Christina Mulherin

Toronto Public Health (TPH) officials are advising over 30 people who attended a health fair in Scarborough to see their health care provider due to possible contact with contaminated needles.

On March 25, the Vision Infinite Foundation hosted a health fair at the Scarborough Village Recreation Centre, where blood glucose testing was being offered. A lancet, or fine needle, attached to a lancing device is used during testing to draw a blood sample to be measured for blood sugar levels.

After receiving a complaint, public health conducted an investigation and confirmed that the needles used to draw blood were “not consistently changed”.

“Every medical device needs to be used and cleaned as directed by the manufacturer’s instructions,” Lenore Bromley, spokesperson for TPH said in an email to Humber News. “Most glucometers are not designed to be reused in between people, so it is very important to follow the instructions and cleaning advice from the manufacturer.”

Many came out to the event, including MPPs Mitzie Hunter and Arthur Potts.

Sharing needles can lead to the spread of several serious bloodborne illnesses like HIV, Hepatitis B (HBV), Hepatitis C and malaria, and can be fatal.

Bromley says that while certain viruses carried in the blood can be passed through re-use of lancets, the chances of these viruses being passed are very low.

She added that those who attended the Vision Infinite Foundation health fair on March 25, and had the blood sugar test, should follow up with a health care provider as a precautionary measure.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), sharing diabetes testing equipment could be a growing issue. For example, a similar incident happened at a health fair in New Mexico in 2010. Dozens of attendees were potentially exposed to bloodborne viruses when fingerstick devices were inappropriately reused for multiple persons to conduct diabetes screening.

The CDC says unsafe practices during blood glucose testing that have contributed to transmission of HBV or have put persons at risk for infection include:

  • Using fingerstick devices for more than one person
  • Using a blood glucose meter for more than one person without cleaning and disinfecting it in between uses
  • Failing to change gloves and perform hand hygiene between fingerstick procedures

Vision Infinite Foundation is a non-profit organization aimed at providing social and medical support to the Bangladeshi community in Canada. Humber News reached out to the organization but did not receive a response.

Health officials are reportedly talking to event organizers and staff about proper procedures to test for diabetes.

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