[Question #1199] Possible risk from discarded needle on a beach

48 months ago
Dear Mr Hook,

My worry is, that one year ago, while walking barefoot on a beach, i felt a prick in my foot. I didn't check immediately after this if it was a needle stick by a discarded needle. And few hours later i started worrying that may be a discarded needle injured me in a scratch that i already had in my foot, in a way that i could not be sure if it was a needlstick or no. Do you think that i am at risk of getting infected with HIV / Hepatitis b/c / Syphilis  or any other STD from this case? Should i get tested for any infection?

Regards,
A worried man
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
48 months ago

Welcome to the Forum.  In a theoretical sense, if you experienced a needle stick from a needle which had been recently used by a person with a blood born infection such as HIV, hepatitis or syphilis, there would be a chance that you could be infected.  However not all needle sticks lead to infection, even when the needles stick occurs soon after it was used by the infected person and even a few hours had been passed since the needle had been used, that chance of infection would be virtually zero.  In the situation you describe it is unlikely that the sensation you experienced was even a needle stick since when needle sticks occur, the needles tend to stay in place and can be seen.  Further, even if it was a needle (which I doubt seriously), the person who had used it may not have had an infection.  Thus, for all of these reasons I am confident that there is not a medical need for you to be tested related to the event you describe. 

The fact that you remain concerned about this event however suggests that you are worried about it.  Since it is easy to test for HIV, hepatitis and syphilis, it would be reasonable for you to get tested for the reassurance it will provide.  Before you test however, please commit to believing the results when you get them.  Further, if you have not been tested before, I would add that if you found yourself to be infected (which is unlikely) this would not mean that the infection came from the stick you experienced while walking on the beach.

I hope these comments and perspectives are helpful to you.  EWH

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48 months ago
Dear Dr,

I have had ocd about these diseases since 2 years ago, with repeated tests etc. I was in therapy for one year but i stopped it at April 16. Maybe i will see again my therapist.  After this incident in the beach one year ago i had never had a test.  Do you think that having a test will help me?or will it make my situation worse?

Thanks a lot



Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
48 months ago
Thank you for the additional information.  With the knowledge that you have been tested before, I see no medical need or benefit for you to test again related to the event you describe.  It does sound like you might benefit from returning to your therapist.  EWH---