from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Cristina Gonzalez
512/463-0121
January 31, 2001

ZAFFIRINI EXPANDS MENINGITIS INFORMATION BILL TO TARGET ALL AGES

Legislation that would provide information about meningitis to college students will be expanded to reach all ages, Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, said Wednesday (Jan. 31) at the State Capitol.

She was responding to Frankie Milley of New Caney, whose 18-year-old son, Ryan, died 14 hours after contracting meningitis. Milley and her husband, Bob, traveled to the Capitol to request the bill expansion and to give the senator a petition with 5,000 signatures.

Pre-filed on Nov. 13, Senate Bill 31 by Zaffirini would direct the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to ensure that all college and university students received information about meningitis, including the availability, effectiveness and side effects of vaccines; symptoms of the disease; and risks of contracting the disease.

"Deaths attributed to meningitis and recent outbreaks focused renewed interest in SB 31," Zaffirini said. "We hope to disseminate information to parents, educators and students to help them consider vaccinations and precautions to preclude the spread of this dreaded disease."

Zaffirini filed the bill at the request of Donna Nipper of San Antonio. Ms. Nipper represented Claire Hanson of San Antonio, whose son, Jason, 18, died of meningitis in 1997.

The Texas Department of Health reports that 39 cases of meningococcal meningitis have been reported throughout the state since Oct. 1 with at least five cases resulting in death.

Cases include eight in Houston, five in Humble, one each in Tomball and South Houston and two in other unincorporated area. Other confirmed cases include 12 in Montgomery County, three in Liberty County, two in Fort Bend County; and one each in Galveston, Brazoria, Chambers and Austin counties.

"If we can educate mothers, we can go a long way toward eradicating this disease, Milley said. "I found out two days after Ryan died that an immunization was available that could have prevented this disease. No mother should have to watch her child suffer and die from a disease that is preventable through immunization."

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