A Tulsa child has died from a rare infection

Friday, August 5th 2005, 9:50 am
By: News On 6

A 9-year-old Tulsa boy dies from a rare infection, caused by an amoeba. A 7-year-old boy is critically ill with similar symptoms. If it's the same infection, he has little chance of surviving.

The illness is called "Naegleria." News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says the boy who had just turned 9 years old died Friday morning at Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa. His name is Terrell Hampton, he was a student at Walt Whitman Elementary and he also had a twin brother.

The seven year old boy is in intensive care at Saint Francis. Both were hospitalized Monday, with similar symptoms - severe headaches and fever.

It took several days for doctors to recognize this extremely rare condition, which few people survive. Its most commonly contracted when people swim in hot, stagnant water. The amoeba that causes the infection is very common in fresh water, but more abundant in hot water with no circulation.

Authorities aren't sure of every place these two children were swimming, but they knew the one that died had visited three City of Tulsa pools.

Those 3 pools were closed Friday for water testing as a precaution, though there has never been a case in a properly chlorinated pool. Authorities are sure the infection came from some other source - a creek, or pond. By Friday afternoon, the city pools had been cleared and they will reopen Saturday. The pools that were checked and cleared are McClure, Springdale and Lacy.

There are only experimental treatments for Naegleria and only two confirmed cases that people survived.

Authorities say it's best to stay out of hot and or stagnant water in lakes and ponds, use nose clips if you decide to swim anyway, and to seek treatment for what looks like the flu in the middle of summer if you've been swimming in those conditions.

A memorial fund for Terrell Hampton has been established at Bank of Oklahoma to assist the family with medical and funeral expenses. Contributions can be sent to Bank of Oklahoma at P.O. Box 1300, Tulsa, OK 74102, Attention Terrell Hampton Memorial Fund.