After weeks of media attention about the rising incidence of people, especially students, being afflicted by an antibiotic-resistant strain of methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus, more commonly known as a staph infection, MRSA has struck NYC. The Health Department confirmed that Omar Rivera Jr., a 7th grader at I.S. 411 in Canarsie, Brooklyn, died of MRSA on October 14.
When the school found out about the child's death last week, it contacted the DOH to investigate. The Daily News reports that "city officials sent a letter home with IS 211 students yesterday," emphasizing that students were not at "increased risk for infection," because Rivera had not attended school for many weeks. Still, a student told reporters there was "something on his back..and then he started getting sick." The Health Department says the rash or boil was not treated properly.
Still, the delay in telling parents about the death didn't quite reassure them. One parent said, "When the kids misbehave, they call us. With a case like this, I don't understand why we didn't get a phone call. There's a serious communications problem. I'm worried."
Washing hands is considered the best way to avoid contracting MRSA - more tips here. Assemblyman Dov Hikind wants all schools to put signs up in bathrooms reminding students and faculty to wash their hands. If they included photographs of the MRSA, it would make hand washing much more compelling - it's scary (check out this guy's documentation of his attempt to battle MRSA).
And when reporters went to the home believed to be the Riveras', a woman said in Spanish, "He was my son and my pain is very great.”