Fewer needles are being found in Vernon but that may because of cleanup programs. (photo submitted)

Fewer needles found

Fewer hypodermic needles are being found in Vernon streets and parks but the problem hasn’t gone away.

Council was told Monday that the city’s ambassador program has recorded a five-year low when it comes to picking up needles, also known as sharps.

“This is good news,” said Annette Sharkey, with the Social Planning Council, in her report.

“There may not be less needles but maybe we are having a better effort with cleanup.”

There is a monthly cleanup of needles in the community which includes members of the street population, while some businesses have also started collecting sharps.

“We know where the hot spots have been and we’re targeting the hot spots,” said Sharkey.

Sharps containers have also been distributed in the homeless camps.

Just a follow up from Councillor Anderson’s question on the risk of infection from discarded needles:

What are the health risks to the community for improperly discarded needles?

Sharkey says she understands the concerns residents have about finding needles, but says the health risk is limited.

“There’s been no reported transmission of those diseases (HIV and hepatitis C) through a needle in a park in Canada,” she said.

“In general, a needle stick injury runs the risk of contracting HIV at 0.3 per cent and hep C at three per cent, and only if the needle contains that virus and the virus is still active. This is only under perfect circumstances including factors such as viral load, temperature and time since use.”