Kids' needle prick injury causes HIV, hepatitis scare

MORE than a dozen children are being tested for HIV and hepatitis after they were pricked by a blood glucose monitor at a Hunter Valley school.

A boy in year 5 has told staff he brought the "diabetic tester" to school on Wednesday after paramedics, who came to his home to treat his ill sister, left it behind.

The pricking began on the school bus and grew into a running game where the boy asked unsuspecting students to "show us how small your hand is", a parent at the school told the Newcastle Herald last night.

When the children put out their hand, they were jabbed with the small hand-held device, which pierces the skin to test the concentration of glucose in the blood for diabetes sufferers.

The parent said as many as 14 children - some as young as five - were pricked on their hands, arms and fingers.

She said she wasn't notified until her daughter returned fromschool on Wednesday afternoon.

She was one of about 15 parents who confronted staff at the school early yesterday.

"My daughter was pricked and we didn't find out until she got home from school because she didn't tell anyone.

"She just told teachers she felt sick and went into the sick bay," she said.

"We were disgusted when we first found out, we were shocked, it was horrible. It's every parent's nightmare.

"The parents are angry. The school hasn't told us much at all, they've just brushed it off at the moment."

She said the group of parents were told they would only be addressed one by one.

The Newcastle Herald has chosen not to name the school to avoid identifying the children.

She said her daughter went to the doctor on Wednesday and had blood tests yesterday.

"It's really scary.

"She's been tested for AIDS and hepatitis B and C and she will have to have another test in three months," she said.

"They are saying there is not much chance she's going to catch it but it's alarming all the same."

The parent said her daughter and a number of the other children had returned to school.

A Department of Education spokesman said students had undergone an "age-appropriate discussion" since the incident on Wednesday.

"[On Wednesday] a male student brought a diabetics tester that he says paramedics left at his home after treating a sibling," he said.

"He and other students played a game imitating the paramedics that he had observed.

"When staff became aware of the game they immediately took possession of the tester.

"They went from class to class seeking to identify any student who had been involved in the game and commenced the precautionary protocol.

"Parents of students who were identified as being involved in the game were notified yesterday.

"[Yesterday] each class conducted an age-appropriate discussion so the students better understand the potential risk of such games."

The same statement was published in the school's newsletter yesterday and attributed to the relieving principal.


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