BELLEVUE, Ky. (AP) — Some northern Kentucky cities are starting to have problems with needles littering parking lots and streets just off major highways.
Bellevue Police Chief Wayne Turner says it is just one side effect of the heroin epidemic in northern Kentucky, where the number of overdose deaths continues to rise.
"They toss it out the window. We get calls: 'Somebody found a heroin needle in a parking lot. See the store manager,' " Turner said.
Turner told The Kentucky Enquirer (http://bit.ly/14iMnRC ) that people should look for needles in parking lots before getting out of their cars and parents should keep children close.
"The heroin use is at a scale we've never seen before," Turner said. "The discarded needles are an unintended side effect."
Turner said the city had a drop in the calls about needles in July, but that's when an interstate exit was closed for ramp work. Now that the exit is open again, calls are increasing.
Newport Fire Chief Gary Auffart said his city's public works department finds the needles just off the highway exits and in parking lots.
Covington firefighters say they are also seeing an increase, but not as much as Newport and Bellevue.
"We see it all the time," Bellevue-Dayton Fire Chief Michael Auteri echoed. "It's going to be a big problem. There are so many sick people out there."
Northern Kentucky Health Department District Director Lynne Saddler says the chance of becoming infected from a discarded needle is low but that people should be cautious.
"Where we get concerned in public health is when people are sharing needles," she said, noting that blood-borne infections are more likely to be transmitted when a needle goes into a vein than when it punctures the skin, she said.
Turner urged extra caution with children.
"Kids have open-toed shoes. They jump out of a car in a parking lot," he said. "Look around when you get out. You've got to look down, look around. Tell your kids."
Information from: The Kentucky Enquirer, http://www.nky.com