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My Experience With Needlestick Injuries

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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Needlesticks are a common injury for those who work with livestock. While needlestick injuries are usually minor, they can be serious. (DTN/Progressive Farmer photo by Jim Patrico)

I recently wrote an article on needlestick prevention. The article can be found in your DTN Ag News area.

The first two years I went to a local community college so I could live at home, save a little money and work on our family farm. My second year, I also worked for a family friend who had a farrow-to-finish hog operation near us.

They vaccinated and processed baby pigs in the days right after they were born in an old dairy barn they had converted to a hog farrowing unit. I was always extremely nice to the wife; I watched her castrate probably hundreds of baby pigs with just a slight flip of her wrist.

After so many days, the piglets were moved to a nearby nursery building. When one needed to be treated, it was my job to climb up into the pens and hold the growing pig so we could inject it with medicine.

One day while doing this I was holding a piglet between my knees and it moved just as the farmer was going to stick it with the needle. That needle went into my leg just above the kneecap. It didn't seem like that big of deal at the time. I had coveralls on and I didn't even really know it when into my leg as it didn't hurt, so we just went ahead with our work.

The next morning, I woke up to go to class and where the area where the needle went into my leg was extremely swollen. It was like a weird bubble of skin just above my knee.

My mom, being the good mom she was, took one look and sent me to the doctor right away. Most college kids skip class for fun reasons, I had to miss class because of needlestick.

Everything was fine (well other than my doctor's jokes about me getting swine flu). I just had an allergic reaction and got a tetanus shot just to be safe. The swelling was mostly gone the next day.

After that day, we were more careful about giving the nursey pigs shots. We would make sure the pig was restrained better before any shots were given.

I guess you live and you learn.

Over the years I have given many shots to various livestock (mainly cattle but also some 4-H sheep and hogs) but I am always pretty careful when doing this chore. I learned the hard way what happens if you are not paying attention to needlestick safety.

Russ Quinn can be reached at

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