Web Only: Possible New Cases Of MRSA Surface At PrisonMatt Shelosky | Reporter
Posted: 8:52 pm EDT August 4, 2011

EASTON, Pa. — WEB ONLY — Northampton County Prison may not be out of the woods with MRSA just yet.

After settling several lawsuits in the past year, Northampton County officials were again apprised of inmates contracting the infection during Thursday’s Northampton County Council meeting. One of the more serious cases could eventually leave a former inmate without a foot.

“This is a threat, not only to the inmates inside the prison walls, but to the community as well,” said Stephanie Freeby, speaking on behalf of state senator Lisa Boscola’s office. “It’s important that we reduce the risk of the disease spreading and treat the inmates who contract it.”

Freeby said that one inmate may have not been treated properly at MRSA’s onset, requiring extensive treatment once it had consumed his whole leg. Another former inmate is facing the amputation of his foot due to the severity of the disease.

“It’s definitely a concern,” said County Executive John Stoffa. “We’ve had these cases in the past, but I’m not aware of the new ones Ms. Freeby talked about this evening.”

Stoffa said MRSA is not a new problem for Northampton County Prison. In 2009, 34 inmates sued the county over contracting MRSA and not being provided with adequate care to recover from and stave off the disease.

According to the Mayo Clinic, MRSA is a viral staph infection that has become immune to antibiotics used to treat the disease, and once a person contracts MRSA, they typically have it for life. It is usually transmitted through touch, is extremely contagious and found in places like prisons, nursing homes, hospitals, or anywhere a large amount of people live in close quarters.

Freeby suggested the county invest in latex paint that would kill MRSA on contact.

“By using this paint, the county would stand to save money,” said Freeby. “Not only will it lower the cost of treating the inmates who may contract the disease, but it would also lessen the possibility of treating the community or possible litigation.”

Freeby said that the county could take part in the National MRSA Awareness Day to help educate the public and raise money for the paint.

Council members said they couldn’t talk about specific cases due to federal HIPPA laws.

Stoffa said he would look into the MRSA claims Friday.

Copyright 2011 WFMZ. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.