Up to 30 people possibly exposed to a used needle at Toronto health fair

According to a doctor needles were not consistently changed between clients

Up to 30 people may have been exposed to a used needle during blood sugar tests conducted at a community event in Toronto last month, the city’s public health authority said Monday as it urged those affected to see a doctor as a precaution.

Needles were “not consistently changed between clients” during the free tests at the March 25 health fair organized by the Vision Infinite Foundation, a Bangladeshi-Canadian community group, said Dr. Herveen Sachdeva, an associate medical officer with Toronto Public Health.

RELATED: B.C. father starts petition after son jabbed by needle he found outside

There is a very low chance of blood-borne viruses, such as hepatitis B and C and HIV, being transmitted by re-using a lancet — a fine needle typically used to prick the skin and take small amounts of blood — but Toronto Public Health has called and written to everyone who had their glucose levels checked at the fair, recommending they get blood tests as a precaution, Sachdeva said.

“Toronto Public Health will receive the results of those who present for follow up with this testing … and this will help us understand whether any illness may have been associated with this event although the risk is very low,” she added.

A woman who attended the fair held at a community centre in Toronto’s east end told organizers during the event that she had seen testers re-use a lancet, Vision Infinite director Shahid Khandker said.

Organizers immediately shut down the testing station, which was run by pharmacy staff from a nearby Shoppers Drug Mart, and called paramedics who in turn notified Toronto Public Health, he added.

“For the future, whether the pharmacy is given the opportunity (to participate again) or not, there are going to be more precautionary measures for sure,” Khandker said of including blood tests at other Vision Infinite events.

Pharmacist Ahmad Abdullah, who said a member of his staff was administering blood sugar tests at the fair when the complaint was made, said it is “extremely disturbing” to know a lancet may have been re-used.

“This kind of thing shouldn’t happen but unfortunately, when there are lots of people there, maybe staff just missed it by chance,” he added.

RELATED: Spring melt uncovers dirty needles in Vernon

Abdullah said he provided Toronto Public Health with a list of everyone who had their blood tested, so authorities could contact them.

Any pharmacy staff member can perform blood tests as long as they have been trained and are supervised by a pharmacist, Abdullah said.

Sachdeva said Toronto Public Health is “looking into what training and qualifications are required” to perform blood sugar tests.

“We will continue to follow up accordingly with the staff from the health fair,” she said. ”Toronto Public Health staff continue to investigate the matter and the event organizers have been co-operative.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Fires highlight need for more volunteers

Short-staffed volunteer fire departments in Elk Valley, South Country rely on mutual aid

Motorcyclist grateful to be alive, thanks fellow drivers

Over a dozen people stopped to assist Lori Hann after she tumbled off her bike on Hwy 3, Saturday

Local athletes ready for BC Summer Games

Twenty-four athletes from the Elk Valley and South Country will compete at the 2018 BC Summer Games.

GearHub staff staying positive after fire

Sporting goods store to fully reopen by end of July

UPDATE: New lead narrows the search for Serval cat

UPDATE, July 17: A new lead has narrowed the search for Aquila… Continue reading

Here’s what you need to know about Day 2 at the BC Games

From equestrian to volleyball to swimming, all 18 events in full swing here in the Cowichan Valley

The Free Press editor wins awards

Editor Phil McLachlan has been recognized at the 2018 Canadian Community Newspaper Awards.

BC Wildfire update on 14 major Okanagan blazes

Watch the media briefing on the current fire situation in the Okanagan.

UPDATED: Kinder Morgan pipeline protesters defy eviction order

Demonstrators at Camp Cloud in Burnaby say they won’t leave, but will meet with city officials

B.C. tent city camper arrested for taking coins from fountain

The man, who built a shelter at a Saanich park, says homeless people are unfairly targeted

Ex-Raptor DeMar DeRozan says goodbye to Toronto on Instagram

The guard was traded to the San Antonio Spurs earlier this week for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green

Okanagan wildfires have potential to become firestorms, says UBC expert

David Andison said to let smaller fires go, to create pockets in the landscape for new forests

2017 wildfires give B.C. mom chance to say thank you to officer who saved her son

An unlikely encounter in the rural community of Likely, near Williams Lake

From hot dog to not dog: stuffed toy prompts car break in

Victoria couple said dog toy had been in the backseat for 18 years without problems

Most Read