Medical data sought over Garda claims

 

THE RISK of contracting HIV or Hepatitis C from saliva can be as low as one in 100,000, a High Court judge was told yesterday.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine had sought medical evidence as to the level of risk as a result of the high number of Garda compensation claims involving fear of transmission of such diseases coming before the court.

Colm Bergin, a consultant in infectious diseases, told the court that in 10 years’ practice he had never come across a case of transmission of HIV or Hepatitis C through saliva.

The judge heard that transmission of such diseases through contact with blood was also negligible.

She had expressed concern as to how well gardaí were educated about risks to members contracting saliva and blood transmitted diseases through bites, spittle or needle stick injuries.

“Such attacks are happening on a daily basis and there are huge numbers of compensation cases coming before the court,” the judge said.

She has asked for reports on the risks involved and what is being done to reassure gardaí injured in assaults as to the low level of risk.

Garda Donnacha Maguire, of Old Balreask Woods, Navan, Co Meath, had earlier told the court he had been “petrified” and suffered nightmares and sleeplessness after having been bitten during the arrest of a known drug user.

Garda Maguire, who was attached to Pearse Street Garda station, Dublin, told the court he had bled after the man had bitten into his lower left arm and had broken his skin.

He had not been fully relieved of his fears until he had been given the all clear six months after blood tests had been taken immediately after the April 2002 incident.

Judge Irvine awarded him €8,000 compensation for physical and psychological suffering as a result of the assault.

She said injured gardaí had to be compensated. But, she added, the court needed to to be fully informed as to what it was compensating gardaí for.