Child Treated at Hospital Days Before Staph Death

by Deborah Brunswick

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Just days before his death, the Brooklyn, New York, middle-school student who died from an antibiotic-resistant staph infection had visited a hospital with skin lesions and was treated with allergy medicine, according to the family's lawyer, Paul Weitz.

Omar Rivera, 12, a New York seventh-grader, died of drug-resistant staph on October 14. Omar Rivera's mother, Aileen, took the 12-year-old boy to Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn because she had been dissatisfied with the treatment he received at a clinic, Weitz told CNN. He said the hospital treated him with Benadryl, a common anti-allergy medicine.

According to hospital spokeswoman Hope Mason, Omar did not show signs of a staph infection when he was treated at the hospital.

"I can confirm the child was brought to the emergency room after midnight on Friday, October 12. He was treated for non-MRSA-related conditions and was released," said Mason. "We will be closely examining whether more could have been done to detect the infection at that time."

MRSA is short for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and is responsible for more deaths in the United States each year than AIDS, according to new data. The germ resists all but the most powerful antibiotics.

Omar, a seventh-grader at Intermediate School 211, was pronounced dead on October 14 at Brookdale Hospital.

Twenty-five to 30 percent of the population carry the staph bacteria -- one of the most common causes of infection -- in their bodies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While such infections are typically minor, invasive MRSA infections can become fatal, because they are caused by drug-resistant staph.