Official: Seaford teen Joseph Tutaj died of strep infection
A 15-year-old Seaford boy's sudden death during a school trip to Disneyland in February was caused by an "invasive streptococcal infection," the Los Angeles County coroner's office said Friday.
A spokesman for the coroner's office, Craig R. Harvey, told Newsday that the autopsy revealed Tutaj had an enlarged heart but that did not contribute to the death.
According to the New York State Department of Health, invasive strep is a severe and sometimes life-threatening infection in which the bacteria invade parts of the body, such as the blood, deep muscle and fat tissue, or the lungs. It was not immediately clear how Tutaj contracted the disease.
The state Health Department website says the bacteria are spread by "direct contact with nose and throat discharges of an infected individual or with infected skin lesions."
Tutaj was on a class trip with the Seaford High School marching band when he became ill. He visited several California clinics and hospitals in the days before his death, officials said.
"We are confident that our staff followed all necessary protocols," school district Superintendent Brian Conboy said Friday, adding that Tutaj was treated with "the utmost care and concern."
The teen's death came not long after the family lost their home when superstorm Sandy battered Long Island in October. Tutaj's father has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, with the family living temporarily in Bethpage.
Tutaj was buried at St. Charles Cemetery in East Farmingdale on March 4, after a funeral Mass at St. William the Abbot in Seaford.
With Gary Dymski
and Jo Napolitano