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County Seeks ‘Understanding’ With NIH On Disclosure of Outbreaks

by BethesdaNow.com — September 25, 2012 at 9:30 am 588 0

After the NIH revealed an antibiotic-resistant “superbug” led to the death of six hospital patients last year, Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda) said the Federal agency should have notified the county of the outbreak.

Last week, after it was revealed a seventh patient had died from the bacterium this month, Berliner and County Executive Isiah Leggett requested a meeting with NIH leadership.

“NIH has been very forthcoming and indicated they would be more than happy to sit down with our county and work out a memorandum of understanding so that we have the kinds of communications that are appropriate when bad things happen,” Berliner said Monday. “I have no desire to step on their toes and get involved in things that are internal to their operation. But at a point in time, if they were to conclude they don’t have a handle on this particular situation, then there’s a possibility it may affect the broader community. Then, yes we need to know about that.”

NIH doctors and researches believed they had the superbug under control when they released information on the infection in a scientific journal in August.

The seventh victim, a young patient from Minnesota, arrived at the hospital in April. NIH says it was the first infection of the superbug since January.

Dr. Henry Masur, chief of the hospital’s Critical Care Medicine Department, state health officials and county health department staff are due to meet in October to discuss the outbreak and recommended revised protocols between NIH and the county.

Berliner and Leggett’s letter to NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins requests another meeting, “to discuss the latest outbreak, how it could have been prevented, and ways we can jointly address community concerns.”

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