holmes mrsa 053021SPRINGFIELD – Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) moved legislation this week that would expand workers’ compensation for firefighters and EMTs to cover a potentially deadly, antibiotic-resistant staph infection that poses a particularly high risk to first responders.

House Bill 3662 would amend the Workers’ Compensation Act. It presumes that these professionals would be exposed to MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) in the course of their employment.

“The job of a firefighter or EMT includes administering up-close care to people who may be MRSA carriers or infected with MRSA,” Holmes said. “This puts first responders at increased risk for MRSA contamination—it’s common sense that a MRSA infection should be covered under workers’ compensation policies.”

The measure is an initiative of the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois.

Current workers’ compensation coverage includes blood-borne pathogens, lung and respiratory diseases and conditions, heart and vascular diseases and conditions, hypertension, tuberculosis and cancer.

“MRSA is different from other staph bacteria because it has become resistant to most of the antibiotics doctors use to treat staph infections,” Holmes said. “It’s important we update our policies to make sure we’re protecting first responders from emerging threats to their health and safety.”

House Bill 3662 has now been approved by both the House and Senate.