June 7, 2006

Player Died of Rare Infection

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- The cause of death for a University of Tulsa football player who died in April was a rare infection known as flesh-eating bacteria, according to state health officials.

Tight end Devin Adair, 21, died April 28 in a Tulsa hospital, but his official cause of death -- known medically as necrotizing fasciitis -- wasn't released until last week.

Since 2003, 10 people in Oklahoma have died from necrotizing fasciitis, although Adair's death was the first this year from the disease. It's called flesh-eating bacteria because of the way it destroys soft tissue in the body.

"A lot of times we don't know how or why a person picks up the infection," said state epidemiologist Brett Cauthen.

"We don't often see this in otherwise healthy people. Most healthy people are able to get rid of the bacteria" that is located in the environment, he said.

The bacteria can enter the body through a small opening like a pin prick or paper cut, or through the respiratory system after someone coughs or sneezes. Health authorities said it is not considered highly contagious or infectious.

Adair's death remains "very mysterious," University of Tulsa vice president Joan Nesbitt said.

Adair transferred to Tulsa from El Camino Junior College in California. The Manhattan Beach, Calif., native started school at Tulsa in January and went through spring football drills in March. He was expected to contend for the starting tight end job this coming season for the Golden Hurricane.