Tulsa 4-Year-Old Dies From H1N1 Complications

Tuesday, October 13th 2009, 11:55 pm
By: News On 6

By Jeffrey Smith, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The Tulsa Health Department confirms a 4-year-old Tulsa boy died over the weekend after reportedly testing positive for influenza A.  The Tulsa Health Department reports the boy's death was due to H1N1 complications.

The child, identified as Geato McCarty, was a Pre-K student at Cooper Elementary School at 1808 South 123rd East Avenue in Tulsa.

This is the second swine flu death in Tulsa in as many weeks.

"Tulsa Public Schools was saddened to learn of the death of a four-year-old student at Cooper Elementary School," TPS spokesperson Tami Marler said in a news release. "Our hearts and prayers go out to the boy's family and his classmates as they cope with this tragedy."

Marler included a copy of the letter sent to Cooper parents after the district heard of the child's death Monday: Read the TPS letter to Cooper parents.

Health officials sent lab samples to the Oklahoma State Department of Health laboratory to see if the strain was H1N1. The report came back positive on Wednesday.

10/6/2009 Related story: Tulsa Health Department: Student Died Of Swine Flu

"I don't want my child to be the next. I want something done. I want to know what can be done," said Lisa Gabbard, a concerned parent.

Lisa Gabbard says she's more worried every day. Her oldest daughter is a student at East Central. That's where 16-year-old LaTowyn Gaston went to school. Earlier this month Gaston died from H1N1, the first such death in Tulsa County.

Gabbard's youngest daughter goes to Cooper Elementary, where McCarty was a Pre-K student.

"There's just so many questions, and there's no answers. There's no one giving answers," said Gabbard.

Gabbard's daughter came home Monday with a letter indicating a student had died.

Gabbard had to call the principal, and then TPS administrators, to confirm it was a flu-related death.

Related Story 10/12/2009: How Area School Districts Keep Parents Informed Of H1N1 Cases

"It's very scary, because she touches doorknobs, she touches desks, she touches things at school that everybody else has touched," said Gabbard.

School officials say flu-like symptoms don't automatically mean the flu, so they can't notify every parent for every sick child.

The letter reads, "Confirmations must come to us directly from a doctor's office stating that flu is confirmed. Please do not be overly concerned, but we do urge you to take precautions."

"Their response is don't worry. How can you tell me not to worry? There's two schools, that both of my daughters are in, and something has happened in both schools. Yes, I'm going to worry," said Gabbard.

The News On 6 does not know if McCarty had any underlying health conditions that may have exacerbated his condition.

The Centers for Disease Control says 99 percent of Type A flu viruses this year are H1N1. 

There have been eight H1N1 deaths in Oklahoma this year.