Assemblyman Perry
Winter 2007


Dear Constituent:

Recently, our neighborhood was shocked by the tragic and sad news of the death of Omar Rivera, a 12-year-old student enrolled at I.S. 211. It was reported that young Omar died after contracting Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA). Our hearts, prayers and deepest sympathies go out to Omar’s mother and father, and all those who loved and cared about him, including all his friends and the student body at I.S. 211.

When something like this happens we always ask the questions, why? What could have been done to prevent that sad event? Efforts have been made by the school leadership, New York City Department of Education, and the New York City Department of Health, to answer questions, and provide information to allay the community’s fears, which are reasonable under the circumstances. But the many questions that remain unanswered continue to give rise to a concern about the safety in our neighborhood schools, where we send our children everyday.

I was in attendance at the parent meeting held at the school on Saturday, October 27, a few days after news reports of the sad news. To my shocking surprise I was only able to attend after resisting efforts from Department of Education personnel who guarded the doors with orders to block your elected representatives from the meeting. I left thinking that there were certain flaws in the notification system dealing with health-related emergencies in our public schools that needed to be addressed.

To those of you, who are probably more than just concerned, but angry about the inadequacies, please know that I understand your frustrations, but we must endeavor to move ahead with action to close the gaps in our system. We must provide adequate and timely information to parents about health-related safety problems in our public schools, and also keep families updated on what to do to protect our youngsters and ourselves from health dangers like MRSA.

You will also learn from the information in this leaflet that I have taken the initiative to introduce legislation that will close some of the gaps in our laws, and provide for quicker notification to parents and community when health-related incidents occur in our public schools.

This MRSA Health Alert will provide you with some information about the deadly bacterium. Please read carefully, and do not hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have regarding the information provided here.

Thanks for reading.
Working for You,
N. Nick Perry
Member of Assembly

Assemblyman Perry Introduces Legislation to Combat Spread of MRSA

Swift notification of those who may have come in contact with someone who has contracted MRSA, such as a classmate, is vital in the fight to stop the spread of this potentially fatal bacterium and other communicable diseases. To fight the spread of MRSA and other dangerous bacteria, specifically in our schools, Assemblyman Nick Perry has introduced a bill that will require hospitals, medical clinics and private practice physicians request information about school and grade and include this with vital patient data collected prior to the treatment and/or admission of school-aged patients.

The legislation (A.9522) will also require immediate notification of the Department of Health if a school-aged patient being treated by a healthcare facility is diagnosed with an infectious or communicable disease, such as MRSA. The school and grade information, which is currently not required, would be provided to Department of Health. To protect for privacy where necessary, notification would be made only if the Department of Health determined there was a public urgency and needed to immediately notify the school attended by the patient to provide proper notice to all who may have come in contact with the afflicted student.

Assemblyman Perry is also introducing legislation that would require all bathrooms open to the public to post hand washing reminders, similar to those displayed in restaurants reminding their employees to wash before returning to work.


MRSA Facts and Q&A

What is MRSA? Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection is caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria-often called "staph." Decades ago, a strain of staph emerged in a hospital that was resistant to the broad-spectrum antibiotics commonly used to treat it. MRSA is one of the first germs to outwit all but the most powerful drugs.

What does MRSA look like? MRSA is primarily a skin infection. It often resembles a pimple, boil or spider bite, but it quickly worsens into an abscess, or pus-filled blister or sore. Patients who have sores that won’t heal, or are filled with pus, should see a doctor and ask to be tested for a staph infection. They should not squeeze the sore or try to drain it. Doing so, can spread the infection to other parts of the skin and even other people.

Who is at risk? The vast majority of MRSA cases happen in hospital settings, but 10 percent to 15 percent occur in the community at large among otherwise healthy people. Infections often occur among people who are prone to cuts and scrapes, such as children and athletes. MRSA typically spreads by skin-to-skin contact, crowded conditions and the sharing of contaminated personal items. Others who should be watchful: people who have regular contact with health care workers, those who have recently taken such antibiotics as fluoroquinolones or cephalosporin. MRSA bacteria account for a large percentage of hospital-acquired staph infections.

Over the past several years, MRSA infections in people not considered high-risk have increased. These infections, known as community-associated MRSA (CA-MRSA), occur in otherwise healthy people who have no history of hospitalization in the last year. Many such infections have occurred among athletes who share equipment or personal items (such as towels or razors) and children in daycare facilities.

A recent study found MRSA cases tripled in the United States between 2000 and 2005, and an estimated 94,360 people are infected and 18,650 die annually, killing more people annually than HIV. The death rate for MRSA, which is one of several superbugs capable of killing patients, is 6.3 per 100,000 people, higher than HIV. The rate increases to 35.4 per 100,000 for senior citizens over 65.

A 2003 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study reported 52 percent of doctors did not clean their hands between patients. A 1997 study found a doctor’s lab coat picked up MRSA bacteria 65 percent of the time when leaning over an infected patient. In a 2006 study, 77 percent of blood pressure cuffs on rolling carts were contaminated with MRSA.

The CDC estimates that 1.7 million Americans contract infections while hospitalized annually and 100,000 die.

Source- CDC, New York Times & The Mayo Clinic

Flu Shot Reminder

If You are Over 50, or in a High Risk Category, such as, Health Professionals, Kids aged 6 months until their 5th birthday, Pregnant women, and People who live in nursing homes and other long term care facilities, call 718 385-3336 to find out where to get your shot.

Be Cautious About MRSA, But Do Not Live in Fear, Says Perry

Assemblyman Nick Perry is urging his constituents to be cautious, but not fall victim to the media’s depiction of MRSA as an apocalyptic superbug.

"Some of the media, as we know, tends to sensationalize issues, and grab attention through the use of shocking headlines and sound bites," said Assemblyman Perry. "We shouldn’t be so afraid of MRSA that we avoid casual day-to-day contact with others, or be worried about sending our children to school each day. Contracting MRSA is not a death sentence."

While MRSA is strongly resistant to methicillin and some other modern antibiotics, it can be treated successfully with many other, readily available antibiotics according to doctors and health officials.

While in fact MRSA can at times be deadly, it is rarely fatal when contracted in the general public. These cases are typically an easily treatable skin infection. Where MRSA does prove most fatal is in nursing homes and hospitals where plentiful open wounds and punctures provide instant access to the bloodstream by the bacterium.

"We live in a society that is already paralyzed by a false fear at times, under the threat of terrorism," said Assemblyman Perry. "While MRSA should of course be treated as a potentially deadly illness, it should not place additional stress on our lives. Practicing good hygiene and following the tips provided in this leaflet, will reduce drastically the chance of the average person contracting MRSA."

MRSA Prevention Tips

It may sound simple, but the easiest and most effective way to protect yourself and your family from MRSA, and other germs and bacteria, is to wash your hands often - with soap and warm water. Rub your hands vigorously together and scrub all surfaces. Wash for at least 20 seconds. (Tip: have your children sing the "ABC’s" song while washing.) It is the soap combined with the scrubbing action that helps dislodge and remove germs.

Other MRSA prevention steps include making sure cuts and scrapes are bandaged until they heal. Wash towels and bed linens regularly, preferably in hot water, and leave clothes in the dryer until they are completely dry. Drying clothes, sheets, and towels in a dryer -- rather than letting them air dry -- helps kill bacteria. MRSA thrives in moist environments.

Remember to shower after exercise, and wipe down exercise equipment before and after use. Remind children and teenagers that personal items shouldn’t be shared with their friends. This includes hair brushes, lip balm, towels, makeup and cell phones.

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telephone Important Health Emergency Phone Numbers
For All Health Emergencies - Dial 911
NYC Poison Control Center (800) 222-1222
NYC Department of Education (718) 935-2000
NYC Department of Health (800) 825-5448
NYS Department of Health 1-866-881-2809
Centers for Disease Control and Emergencies (800) 311-3435
Kings County Hospital (718) 245-3131
Brookdale Hospital 718-240-5000
SUNY Downstate (718) 270-1000

CONTACT Assemblyman Nick Perry
903 Utica Avenue white box Brooklyn, NY 11203 white box (718) 385-3336