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Texas Senate
Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr.: District 27
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Press Release
April 24, 2009
Contact: Doris Sanchez, Press Secretary
(512) 463-0385

AUSTIN, TX — Texas will join the rest of the country in observing World Meningitis Day through Senate Resolution 712 by Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. approved by the full Senate today that declares April 25 Texas Meningitis Awareness Day.

Sen. Lucio also named a bill by Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, requiring bacterial meningitis vaccinations for first-time college students living on campus in this state, the Jamie Schanbaum Act, after the 20-year-old University of Texas student who has been hospitalized for the past six months with the less common and more violent version of the bacteria Meningococcemia.

"Jamie is blessed to have survived, but not without consequence," said Sen. Lucio. "As a result of this severe infection, she has had both legs amputated below the knees, as well as most of her fingers. Had Jamie been immunized with a readily available vaccine, this heartbreaking situation could have been avoided."

Bacterial meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cords. The disease strikes 2,000 to 3,000 Americans each year, and 10 to 12 percent of those infected die. There is also a viral type of meningitis.

Sen. Lucio said that Jamie, daughter of Ms. Patsy Silva Schanbaum, who is originally from his own hometown of Brownsville, "will battle the effects of this disease the rest of her life, yet she proceeds with courage, perseverance and resolute determination to return to her life as a college student."

Adolescent vaccinations would reduce direct costs of the disease by $18 million and decrease productivity losses by $50 million. The health problems and disabilities caused by the bacterium, such as brain damage, kidney failure and epilepsy, could be prevented with vaccinations. The rate of the invasive disease among persons 17 to 20 years of age is twice that of the rate of the general U.S. population, which results in anywhere from five to 15 deaths among college students yearly. Twenty percent of those who survive meningococcal disease live with severe health problems.

"Texas cannot show enough gratitude to the valiant and generous efforts by the Schanbaum's, including Jamie's siblings Nicholas, KC and Roni, who turned their heartache into action by championing vaccinations that can save lives and prevent what Jamie has had to endure," said Sen. Lucio. "My prayers are that Jamie can fulfill her goal of returning to UT-Austin and complete her studies when she is finished with her upcoming rehabilitation."

Senator photo

The Texas Senate today declared April 25 Texas Meningitis Awareness Day through a Resolution presented by Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr.