A 30-year-old mom shared a video on social media of her young daughter removing a tongue depressor from a jar, licking it, and putting it back. Now she's charged with a felony.

By Anna Halkidis
July 15, 2019
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Although a sign at a Florida pediatrician office reads, “Please do not touch medical supplies,” a mother reportedly filmed her young daughter removing a tongue depressor from a jar, licking it, and putting it back. Now the mom, Cori E. Ward, who shared the video on social media July 9 with the caption, “Don’t tell me how to live my life,” is in trouble with the law.

Ward, 30, was arrested July 11 for the incident which took place at the All About Kids & Families Medical Center in Jacksonville, Florida. She was charged with a felony for “tampering with a consumer product without regard for possible death or bodily injury,” according to CBS 47. Her bond was set to $2,500 and she was told “she cannot have contact with the doctor’s office or any social media." She was released Friday.

In her defense, the mother of five says she posted the video on her personal Snapchat account only for the viewing pleasure of her friend list of about 20. The now viral video, she adds, was shared by someone else and posted publicly on Facebook. Ward, who says she's now receiving death threats, also claims to have removed the items from the jar after her daughter tampered with them.

The medical center had contacted authorities upon hearing about the incident. In a statement to the news station, the All About Kids & Families Medical Center said, "We were notified yesterday that a patient had violated our trust with behavior that is inconsistent with the practices and standards that we uphold and expect in our facility.” The center also confirmed it “removed all materials and containers from the specific exam room and re-sanitized“ the entire place. (The Center didn't respond to request for a comment at the time of publication.)

Viewers of the video have accused Ward of creating it as part of social media’s new “licking challenge” or the “ice cream challenge,” but she says she was unaware this challenge existed. That viral challenge usually involves people going into grocery stores, opening an ice cream container, licking the top, and placing it back into the freezer.

Such a challenge poses a health risk. Human saliva contains antibodies and enzymes that lower the chance of transmission of “infectious organisms,” according to an article from the Cleveland Clinic in 2016. But colds, the flu, mononucleosis, type 1 herpes, strep bacteria, hepatitis B and C, and cytomegalovirus may still be transmitted, as well as newer viruses, including ebola and bird flu.

“The risk of saliva transmitting disease is very small,” explained Dr. Michael Benninger, M.D., the chairman of the Head and Neck Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. “That said, most people would prefer to choose whom they want to share saliva with.”

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