A 12-year-old boy has endured a big scare and faces months of blood tests after being pricked by a discarded, used needle.
Cuan Louw was riding his bike with a friend on Saturday, December 7 about 4.30pm.
The two boys were searching for an existing trail in bush area across the road from Esperance Primary School and next to the Esperance Civic Centre.
Cuan fell off his bike and discovered a used needle was pierced into his thumb.
"I saw the needle in my hand and I instantly took that out," he said.
"It was bleeding, so I told my friend and we got back on our bikes."
His friends' dad took him to the emergency department and the needle was given to hospital staff.
While Cuan says the needle prick didn't hurt, he will have to undergo a series of tests as a result of the incident.
Initial tests were immediately sent off for examination and he spoke with both a hematologist and an infectious disease specialist.
The first round of results came back today, December 9 and, fortunately, they were all clear.
Cuan's mother, Kirsty, described the incident as "extremely distressing".
"How do you react to hearing someone phone you saying your child is at the hospital with a used needle in his thumb? You can't begin to comprehend that," Mrs Louw said.
"Kids need to be able to just be kids. You've got people who need their addictions fed and that's their problem. But don't make it the problem of innocent people.
"There are places you can dispose of used needles and you can be anonymous. You need to do it. Our children need to stay kids and innocent as long as they can."
Mrs Louw said she would like to see policies in place that required people to hand in their old needles before receiving a new one.
Her son was fully vaccinated, which gave the family some peace of mind. Mrs Louw hoped this incident would also encourage other families to ensure their children were up to date with their vaccinations.
The mother of four said the community had been "absolutely incredible" in its response, with more than 180 people contacting her to make sure everything was okay after she posted about the incident on the Esperance Community Page.
Cuan said seeing the response from the community had made him feel a lot better.
"It's good to know that people care and I hope it will make sure this doesn't happen again," he said.
Shire of Esperance chief executive officer Matthew Scott said after shire officers saw the post on Facebook on Sunday morning, they immediately inspected the area around the Civic Centre but didn't find any needles.
The officers then searched a vacant block nearby and found and removed five needles.
"This area will now be added to our list of areas our Parks and Garden team regularly inspect in the future," Mr Scott said.
"It is always alarming when the shire hears about a child being involved in a needle incident, and we can only hope and pray the child is okay."
Mr Scott said it was also disappointing that individuals continued to choose not to properly dispose of needles, despite ongoing community education and numerous needle depositories in and around town.
"Regrettably this seems to becoming more common, requiring additional shire and police resources to police, inspect and clean up, due to the actions of a few," he said.
Esperance Police Senior Sergeant Justin Tarasinski said police would heighten patrols and police presence in the area where the incident occurred.
He appealed for those who do use drugs to at least dispose of their needles appropriately so they didn't put others at risk.
A spokeswoman for the WA Country Health Service said treatment, following an accidental needle stick injury at an emergency department, included taking detailed information about the injury such as how long ago it happened, how deeply the skin was penetrated, whether or not the needle was visibly contaminated with blood and any first aid measures used.
The spokeswoman said the transmission risks were small but ED staff would provide the appropriate level of counsel and could offer blood tests to check for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
"It's important to note that in Western Australia to date there has not been a documented case of a person contracting HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C from a needle stick injury that occurred in a community setting, such as a park or beach, and the risk is considered to be very low," she said.