Second Tulsa child dies of rare infection

Friday, August 5th 2005, 9:45 pm
By: News On 6

The Tulsa City-County Health Department confirms two boys a 7-year old and a 9-year old have died. Health officials suspect both boys were infected by a deadly ameba.
They think the boys might have been infected separately and they're still investigating how and where the boys might have gotten the illness. The News on 6 has learned more about the first victim, 9-year-old Terrell Hampton.

Terrell Hampton's aunt says not even a week ago her nephew was a healthy, happy nine-year-old. She says that all started to change last Sunday. And it went downhill fast from there.

Wanda McKinney, Victim's Aunt: "We are all devastated, shocked, numb, still in disbelief."

Wanda McKinney says its hard to believe her 9-year-old nephew Terrell Hampton is gone.

Wanda McKinney: "Terrell was always very energetic very happy pretty much the leader."

Five days ago Terrell's aunt says her little leader started acting strange. She says the boy who was hardly ever sick was complaining of a headache and stiff neck.

Wanda McKinney: "So mom made a doctors appointment thinking maybe it was a cold, flu."

But this was no flu. McKinney says Terrell went down hill fast. She says he was incoherent, fell into a coma and died early Friday morning.

Doctors think Terrell had a rare infection called Naegleria its caused by a deadly amoeba. Its found in every lake and pond in Oklahoma but its more abundant in hot, stagnant water. It has to be inhaled through the nose and its usually picked up when folks are swimming.

But McKinney says the family doesn't think Terrell had been swimming for two to three weeks.

Wanda McKinney: And that's what so shocking for the family because right now we have no explanation.

The loss is hitting the whole family hard especially Terrell's twin brother Terry.

Wanda McKinney: Because there was a bond between the two twins one didn't do anything without the other one didnt sleep without the other. And so its very very difficult for terry."

McKinney says Terrell's parents want to warn other families to keep them from going through the torture they've experienced this week.

Wanda McKinney: "they wanted all families to be aware of the naegleria organism and how fast it can effect families and take the life of children and adults.

The health department says Terrell and the other 7-year-old victim did not know each other and probably contracted the illness separately. But Wanda McKinney says the second victim stays in the same neighborhood with Terrell's grandmother where he spends a lot of time during the summer.

The Parent Child Center of Tulsa has set up a memorial fund for Terrell Hampton and his family. If you woud like to donate you can send contributions attention Terrell Hampton Fund, Bank of Oklahoma. P.O. Box 1300, Tulsa Ok 74102.