Dirty syringes left by drug users amid the heroin crisis are reportedly being tossed aside all around the country — a trend so alarming it appears to be "raining needles."
Used needles are turning up on hiking trails, playgrounds, baseball dugouts and sidewalks — and if inadvertently stepped on, can stick an unsuspecting victim, exposing them to blood-borne diseases, or even a dose of whatever drug is still in the barrel, the Associated Press reported.
"We started seeing it last year here and there. But now, it's just raining needles everywhere we go," Rocky Morrison told the AP.
Morrison leads a cleanup effort along the Merrimack River, which winds through Lowell, Mass. According to the AP, the drive has recovered hundreds of needles in abandoned homeless camps and in piles of debris that collect in floating booms that have been set.
According to the AP, Portland, Maine, officials have collected more than 700 needles so far this year, putting them on track to handily exceed the nearly 900 gathered in all of 2016.
In March alone, San Francisco collected more than 13,000 syringes, compared with only about 2,900 the same month in 2016, the AP reported.
"I just want more awareness that this is happening," Nancy Holmes, the mother of an 11-year old girl who stepped on a syringe while swimming in California, told the AP. "You would hear stories about finding needles at the beach or being poked at the beach. But you think that it wouldn't happen to you. Sure enough."
In another horrifying close call in California, a 6-year-old girl put a used needle in her mouth when she mistook it for a thermometer. The girl was unharmed.
According to the AP. some experts say the problem will ease only when more users get treatment and more funding is directed to treatment programs.
Others are counting on needle exchange programs, now present in more than 30 states, or the creation of safe spaces to shoot up, the AP has reported.
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