A Maple Ridge family has to play an anxious waiting game for the next year after a four-year-old boy accidentally pricked himself with a discarded hypodermic needle.

Melissa Cook, the child's mother, said she screamed in horror when she turned to see her son Kesler holding the needle outside their apartment building.

"My heart-dropped," Cook told CTV News. "I instantly grabbed the needle from him."

Initially, Kesler told his mother that the needle hadn't poked him but when she inspected his hand she saw that it had broken the skin.

Cook said she was so upset she couldn't think clearly but managed to rush Kesler to the hospital where he was tested for HIV, Hepatitis and other infections.

The boy will have to be tested again every three months for the next year before the family can be sure that he did not contract anything from the needle.

"My worst fear is that for this little four-year-old, life could be drastically changed. It could be a completely different life for him," Cook said.

Cook said she has experienced a range of emotions including anger, frustration and sadness.

"I bawled my eyes out. I actually broke down. I was crying."

She said it is not uncommon to see discarded needles in her neighbourhood which is only two blocks from Maple Ridge's downtown.

She has even found needles on the playground at her children's school.

Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read acknowledges the city is experiencing a serious issue with discarded needles.

The city is working with Fraser Health on a variety of ways to keep needles off the street but Read would like to see the agency that hands out needles to drug users do more to keep dirty needles of the street.

"I expect that there should be accountability on Fraser Health's part to make sure that there is a robust cleanup program in place and I think anything less than that is unacceptable,” said the mayor.

Fraser Health says it does have programs in place to deal with dirty needles.

“Currently, we are mapping locations where discarded needles are found in order to target recovery efforts and disposal options, and we are providing individual disposal containers, regular sweeps of public spaces, and ongoing proactive community awareness and education campaigns regarding safe disposal practices,” said medical health officer Ingrid Tyler in a statement.

City staff track areas where large numbers of used needles are found and that information is shared on the Maple Ridge city website