Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events


Posted by David Keelan on Friday, October 19, 2007

Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

What the 4377 is that? You may be asking.  Well you should be.  It has been all over the news lately and it is very serious. 

I think our officials in Howard County, starting with Ken Ulman, should take the lead in bringing awareness of this issue to the public.  Most of all he should not put any, especially some of our most vulnerable, citizen in a situation where they may be exposed to MRSA. 

MRSA is a staffph infection that is highly resistant to antibiotic medications and there has been a rise in the occurance of this strain of staff infection.

The Centers for Disease Control says that MRSA infections are more prevalent and invasive than previously thought.  Additionally, the CDC says the overall incidence rate is an “astounding” 32 invasive infections per 100,000 people.  Finally, older adults and people who are ill or have weakened immune systems, ordinary staph infections can cause serious illness called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureusor MRSA.

Older adults….  Lets get back to that.

WBAL reports:

Howard [County] is the latest Maryland county where a drug resistant staph infection has showed up in its schools. The county health department says two confirmed cases of the superbug that doctors call MRSA have been recorded at Wilde Lake High School in Columbia..

Older adults and Wilde Lake.

The County announced the following…

2007 50+EXPO
Friday, October 19, 2007
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Wilde Lake High School
5460 Trumpeter Road
Columbia, MD 21044

Do you think that was the wisest choice of venue for the 50+ Expo in light of the fact that two cases of MRSA have been reported in the same week?  Ken Ulman, the Department of Aging, and the Department of health fill the place up with people who are 50 years old or older?  People who are most vulnerable to MRSA?

What has Ken to do with this?


The full invitation and “Free Admission” notice is here.

The Howard County Department of Health noted to WJZ, when responding to the two MRSA cases at Wilde Lake:

“It’s only the relatively unusual case where the MRSA becomes systemic, gets into the blood stream and gets to the vital organs that it gets to be very dangerous. Those cases predominantly occur in hospitalized patients, the elderly, the sick,” said Howard County Health Officer Dr. Peter Beilensen.


Even though Howard County health officials don’t believe there’s cause for alarm, they’re not allowing students and teachers to come to school with an uncovered cut or break in their skin.

How did they insure that 50+ attendees didn’t come to Wilde Lake High School with uncovered cuts or breaks in their skin?

I don’t think it was very wise of Ken Ulman, the School System or the Health Department to allow this event to take place at Wilde Lake.  For Pete’s sake what were they thinking?  What has Ken to do with this event.  Go to the web site and you will see his invitation to attend.  Besides he is the County Executive and this is a County event.

According to the Washington Post:

A report this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimates that serious incidences of this strain are far more frequent than previously thought. Every year in the United States, the researchers said, MRSA causes more than 94,000 acute infections and nearly 19,000 deaths.

No wonder there are more incidences.  People don’t think things through.  This event should have been moved to a new venue as soon as these cases were identified at Wilde Lake.  The cases were reported in the papers on the 18th.  They must have confirmed this on the 17th at the latest.  One would think that moving the event would have been very prudent.

You may think I am blowing this out of proportion but you would be wrong.  The CDC is very worried about this and Ken Ulman should be taking it more seriously too.  While he is out patting himself on the back about tapping into the Kaiser Foundation’s money for health care (it was a great idea by the way) he is turning his back on serious health threats.

I am not saying this was a reckless disregard (although it may border on it) I am saying  it was foolish.


7 Responses to “MRSA”

  1. Waldo said

    WOW – This is shocking to say the least, I can’t believe Peter Beilenson the highly vaunted re-tread from Baltimore City would have done something about this? Apparently the Health Department, the Office on Aging and the School Board are not concerned about out seniors. What are we paying these bozo’s for?

  2. John G. Boyle said


    I’m thrilled that folks are now aware of MRSA, and I applaud you for pushing for greater awareness. I had a horrendous battle with it two years ago. My wife still has nightmares about it.

    At the same time, I’m dismayed that you and Waldo have taken the opportunity to combine this topic with political ax-grinding. Just because folks aren’t going into “lockdown mode” doesn’t mean that they’re being foolish. Considering that the schools are already taking the most effective front-line approach(disinfecting commonly used surfaces), I’d imagine that Wilde Lake was probably a safer venue for the expo than others where seniors congregate.

    This isn’t a flash-in-the-pan medical scare: this has been a big problem for years. Now that it has entered the public forum, we should be able to take some steps to ensure that we’re pushing prevention. But to suddenly start pointing fingers and making judgements about what’s right and wrong when you’ve only just learned about the problem? C’mon now…

  3. JGB,

    Motivations aside. The point is they should not have used this venue for the 50+ Expo. Especially given this is not a “flash – in – the – pan” scare (as you point out).

    The point I attempt to make is that our officials need to take a more proactive approach to this problem and not put people in harms way. I am not suggesting a “lockdown”. I am suggesting prudence especially when vulnerable people are involved.

    I am glad to know that you won your battle.

  4. CynthiaVaillancourt said

    Even better than moving the event would have been to thorougly clean/disinfect the facility.
    Under the circumatances – actual cases at Wilde Lake – thorough cleaning would have been in order … so this may have been the safest place to hold the event.

    On the other hand – if the facility has not been disinfected, then it is not a particularly safe place for the students, employees or visitors.

    Does anyone know what measures have been taken to address the infection history at Wilde Lake?

    Cindy V

  5. John G. Boyle said


    Again with motivations aside, I think that I understand your general concerns. I don’t agree with some of the specific ones, though.

    I’m immunocompromised (it’s genetic) and where I go has little impact on my health. Frankly, with guesstimates as to the number of carriers out there, it looks like I’m as likely to get something at Wilde Lake as I am at work, or at the Giant.

    I agree that officials, State and County, do need to be proactive. There’s a lot that can be done to prevent infection, primarily through education since a lot of it relies on personal hygiene (alcohol-based hand sanitizer with moisturizer is amazing). Also, I’m sure that there are areas where they can push towards stepped-up sanitation procedures within local institutions. The problem is that MRSA genie is out of its bottle. Avoiding it is going to be harder and harder. Folks need to be most concerned with recognizing infection when it strikes and trying to minimize the spread through some basic sanitation measures.

    Again in drawing from personal experience, I just want to keep folks from getting involved in where/how “at risk” groups congregate, etc. Unless they were holding the expo in the men’s locker room (a bad idea on many levels), the event at Wilde Lake should have been just about as safe there as anyplace else. I think that people would have been fueling potential hysteria by moving it.

    The prudence that’s necessary to keep us safe in this case is up to all of us as individuals – and not government officials.

  6. ACR said

    Did you mean “staph” infection? Because you wrote ‘staff’ infection, which sounds kind of silly taken literally.

  7. There is new technology out that will kill the MRSA staph as well as other bateria, virus and fungi on the hard surfaces of your house, office or work place. Besides good hygine making sure that your environment is clean is critical to staying healthy. Check out the information on or a part of the Healthier Living blog spots.

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