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Latest health and behavior news and advice from the veterinarians at Tufts University.

Features January 2013 Issue

Dealing with Needles in the House

“It’s an undertaking for people to get used to having syringes and needles at home,” says Armelle de Laforcade, a veterinarian at the Foster Hospital for Small Animals at the Tufts Cummings School. “You have to make sure to keep the needles away from small children, for instance.”

That’s a pretty reflexive safety measure for most parents. What households often have a harder time wrapping their heads around is safe needle disposal. People who inject medicine into themselves for various conditions often use “sharps” containers to dispose of the needles. These are thick plastic boxes, usually red, with a one-way hole to stick something through but not retrieve later. Full sharps containers are brought to the pharmacy rather than put out with the usual trash or taken to the town landfill. That way, no one working in waste disposal will get stuck with a needle and potentially end up with, say, an infectious disease.

“There’s not that much transmission of diseases from dogs to people,” Dr. de Laforcade says, “but throwing dog needles in with the regular trash is still not safe.” That’s why, she says, at Tufts “we tend to give people instructions to set used needles aside and bring them back to us so we can dispose of them in a way that won’t hurt anyone. You need to work with your veterinarian to make sure your own dog’s used needles are thrown away with safety precautions in mind.”

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