mayor michael r. bloomberg and the city health commissioner, dr. thomas r. frieden, went on the airwaves this morning to remind adults and children to wash their hands after a drug-resistant infection killed a brooklyn middle school student
. omar rivera, a seventh grader at intermediate school 211 in canarsie, died on oct. 14. health officials said the infection
, typically known as a staph infection, was caused from a bacteria called methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or m.r.s.a. for short. an investigation is under way to determine how and where he contracted the infection.
"staph infections themselves are very, very common," dr. frieden said on the mayor's weekly call-in radio program on wabc-am (770). "and they're usually treatable. but death in a healthy child is extremely rare, it's a terrible tragedy and our hearts go out to them. most staph infections look like a pimple or a boil, and if you're worried about them, by all means, see your doctor. it's spread not easily. it's spread by skin to skin contact, or sharing towels or other personal items like razors."
dr. frieden said 9 of 10 serious staph infections occur in hospitals or other health care plants. he urged people to wash their hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers and to avoid sharing towels, razors and other personal items that can spread infection.