FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 24, 2007
With Deadly, Drug-Resistant Staph Exploding Across NYC Metro Area, Schumer Announces Senate Approval of $5 Million In Emergency Funding to Combat Lethal Infection
Today U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced the Senate has approved an amendment to devote $5 million in emergency funding to help the Agency for Health Research Quality (AHRQ) prevent the spread of the deadly staph infection now blamed for over 90,000 infections and 18,500 deaths annually. There have been daily reports of new infections throughout the New York metro area, with more than 50 serious cases reported just in New York since 2005. The Schumer backed amendment cleared the Senate late last night as part of the Labor Health and Human Services Appropriations Bill.
“This funding will finally give the federal government the tools it needs to stop this bug dead in its tracks,” Schumer said. “This infection has spread unabated for far too long. Right now, families and communities across New York are on edge, fearing that their kid’s school could be the next one hit by this potentially fatal infection. We must do everything we possibly can to eradicate this infection before another student gets sick.”
MRSA, a deadly strain of drug-resistant staph, was believed to primarily be a concern in health care settings and hospitals until reports this week that the bacteria had spread across the nation’s schools, infecting dozens and killing one student in Virginia. The bacteria, which generally reside in the nose or on the skin of about a third of the population, can be deadly if allowed to penetrate the skin or enter the blood stream. Schools are particularly prone to outbreaks in gyms or locker rooms, where students share towels, razors or sports equipment.
The news coincided with a Center for Disease Control report which found that the bacteria was responsible for approximately 18,650 deaths in the United States in 2005, a much larger number than previously expected.
Last week, nine athletes and a coach at Iona College contracted an antibiotic-resistant staph infection, which has spread through schools nationwide, health officials said Friday. And just today, it was announced that at t least eight students in New Jersey have been diagnosed with a highly resistant staph infection.
The bill now will be considered by a Joint House-Senate conference before going to the President for signature. The President has signaled he would veto this bill.
“Eradicating this terrifying bacteria should be put above politics. The President should remove his veto threat immediately and allow this vital funding to be approved without delay,” Schumer added.