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Montgomery County officials call for NIH meeting on superbug

Tuesday - 9/25/2012, 5:40pm  ET

WASHINGTON - After a seventh patient was killed by a superbug at the National Institutes of Health, Montgomery County officials have new concerns.

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and County Council President Roger Berliner want to know if the bacterial outbreak can be contained to the NIH medical campus, and if not, what's the plan?

County health officials had already scheduled a meeting with medical staff set for October. The meeting was called due to concerns that local officials had not been alerted to the fact that the NIH had been battling the superbug since last summer.

Leggett and Berliner sent a letter to NIH asking for a meeting "at the highest leadership levels" and cited concerns from the community. Berliner says he doesn't want to overstate those concerns, but he does want to coordinate with NIH officials.

The NIH has previously stated it is not required to report the infection caused by the drug-resistant superbug to the Centers for Disease Control, but it is keeping the CDC updated with information.

Last fall, the NIH took steps to stop the spread of the bug by building a wall to isolate patients, ripping out plumbing containing the bacteria and spraying vaporized disinfectant in patients' rooms, the Washington Post reports. No new patients were infected from January to July.

Tests of the seventh victim since January, a boy from Minnesota who died Sept. 7, show that he had the infection in July. The boy is the 19th patient who has contracted the superbug since August 2011.

Read the letter from Montgomery County officials to the NIH:

NIH LetterSept2012

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WTOP's Kate Ryan and The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow Kate Ryan and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)