Medical examiner: boy died of rare lake infection

September 29th, 2009 by

POLK COUNTY (Bay News 9) – A 10-year-old that died last month of an infection likely picked it up while swimming in Lake Arietta.

According to the Polk County Health Department, Philip Thomas Gompf swam in the lake and developed symptoms a week later.

Gompf died of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, which is caused by a natural occurring amoeba that can be found in fresh water such as lakes, rivers, hot springs and poorly maintained pools, the health department said.

Gompf, who lived in Plant City, had gone to Lake Arietta in Auburndale to go tubing with his cousins. He died Aug. 17.

Ironically, Gompf’s mother Sandy is an infectious disease specialist at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa.

The amoeba can cause the infection by traveling up the nose to the brain and spinal cord.

The health department said that while the threat of infection is rare, it increases during hot summer months.

Symptoms of the infection include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, confusion, lack of attention to people and surroundings, loss of balance and bodily control, seizures and hallucinations.

A similar death happened last week in central Florida. A 22-year-old man died after swimming in fresh water. Health leaders also believe he caught the deadly infection.

That same infection also killed three central Florida boys in 2007.

Officials have notified those who live near the lake about incident.

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