Families of two unrelated children who died of a recreational water illness in 2005 are receiving a settlement payment from the city of Tulsa, Okla.
Natasha and Terrell Hampton and Diana Doxey and Martinez Owens received a total of $315,000 for the deaths of their sons, Terrell Hampton II, age 9, and Martinez Owens, 7. The parents claimed negligence in their lawsuit against the city, citing poor maintenance of the Mohawk Park spraypad, where their sons had played on separate days that summer. The families will split the money evenly.
Naegleria infection is more common in rivers, ponds and lakes, but extremely rare in treated water conditions, said Michael Beach, senior epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. The amoebae enter via the nasal passages and take about seven days to infect an individual. Symptoms include severe headache, confusion and fever. The disease is often fatal.
Both boys had been playing in the same splashpad within two weeks of each other, though the Tulsa Health Department said water from the treated system was unlikely to have contained the amoebar. Officials think the system was cross-contaminated from stagnant water collecting in an area 30 to 40 feet away. According to a press release, ?officials believe the children could potentially have contaminated the water ? after running through the nearby stagnant water area or scooping the stagnant water up in water toys and throwing them into the sprinkler toys.?
Beach said that while the disease is rare in treated systems, ?it?s a strong message that we?d better maintain our facilities,? he said. ?Everybody has to think about it, even in a rare event like this.?