SAN DIEGO – Health officials are investigating the death of a 7-year-old Spring boy, who died of a severe bacterial infection he may have contracted while on vacation in California, KFMB-TV reports.
Tevita Alatini was vacationing in the San Diego area with his family about a week ago when he got sick.
The family had been at a lake at Camp Pendleton. They said Alatini had been swimming and enjoying himself when he suddenly fell ill.
Alatini’s uncle, Sione Niko, told KFMB that the illness started as a rash under his armpit.
“He was complaining about a pain on his side, and it started off just like a little rash, and then it just became bigger,” Niko said.
Soon, Niko said Alatini was unresponsive.
“He was just laying there not feeling well, and he was throwing up again, and he just became real sick,” Niko told KFMB. “He wasn’t really responding to his mother, so that’s when they decided that he needed to go straight to the ER.”
Officials said it could be weeks before test results come back on exactly what kind of infection killed the boy.
But his family wonders if he might have contracted a flesh-eating bacteria, possibly from the lake water.
According to an infectious disease expert from Baylor College of Medicine, family members appear to have done everything possible to save the victim’s life.
Doctor Daniel Musher also said acting quickly is critical when guarding against these kinds of severe infections.
“If at the sight of a scratch or trauma, it develops a rapidly spreading red area, that’s the time to rush off to see a physician.”
He added that the kind of infection that killed Alatini is extremely rare, occurring only about 75 times a year in the U.S.
“It’s the kind of thing you pray never to occur,” said Musher.