Health alert at university as student, 19, dies of meningitis hours after complaining she had a headache

A health scare in West Wales has followed the sudden death of Hannah Gwilliam, 19, from meningitis

A health scare in West Wales has followed the sudden death of Hannah Gwilliam from meningitis

An adventurous, fit teenager died of meningitis within hours of complaining of a headache.

Fit and healthy Welsh student Hannah Gwilliam, 19, was her ‘usual bubbly self’ in college but became ill just hours after arriving home.

Health chiefs today confirmed Hannah died of the meningococcal group B strain of the deadly brain virus.

Hannah’s close friends and family are being treated with antibiotics to prevent the spread of the illness.

Other students at Pembrokeshire College in West Wales were being urged to ‘be vigilant’ and check for signs of the illness.

They were sent a letter with the symptoms of meningitis, urging
them to seek medical help if they suspect they have contracted the
illness.

Each year, the infection affects 3,400 people, killing around 300 people.

Killing one in ten victims – sometimes in under four hours – the disease is most common in children and those aged 14 to 24.

It is particularly prevalent amongst 'students who are believed to be more susceptible due to living in close proximity to others,' according to Meningitis.co.uk.

Ms Gwilliam's family and friends are shocked by the death of the 'bubbly' girl who was 'full of life'. The 19-year-old studied art and design and led an active lifestyle

Ms Gwilliam's family and friends are shocked by the death of the 'bubbly' girl who was 'full of life'. Studying art and design, the 19-year-old enjoyed sports

Dr Mac Walapu, consultant in
communicable disease control for Public Health Wales said: ‘We have
arranged for people who were in close contact with the teenager to
receive medication which will prevent them from becoming ill.

‘It is important to be aware of the
symptoms, which can include headache, fever, drowsiness, vomiting, neck
stiffness and possibly a red rash that did not fade when pressed with a
glass tumbler.’

Ms Gwilliam was studying art and design but her real love was the outdoors.

She had recently returned from a skiing trip and was also a keen waterskier.

Her family, from the riverside village
of Burton, Pembrokeshire, owned a boat and Hannah and her brother Tom,
20, regularly skied from it.

One friend said: ‘It is so tragic – Hannah was full of life and adventure.

‘She
was in college last week and was her usual bubbly self. No one could
believe it the next day when we found out she had died in the night.’

A flag was flying at half mast outside the college yesterday where some of Hannah’s friends were in tears.

SPOT THE SIGNS

According to meningitis.co.uk, there are eight main symptoms to look out for:

fever,vomiting,headache, stiff neck, dislike of bright lights, drowsiness, difficulty in supporting own weight and a rash that does not fade when pressure is applied.

Tributes were made on Facebook to the popular teenager who was known as Gwill.

Her
friend Lucy Kiff said: ‘Hannah, truly one of the nicest, kindest, most
beautiful girls to enter this world and to be taken so quickly is one of
the most cruel things I will ever witness.

‘You
will never ever be forgotten, such a special person and made such a
difference in so many peoples lives. Devastated can not touch how I
feel.’

James Brock said: ‘Such a lovely, happy person that filled the room and everyones heart.

‘The world truly is unfair, Gwill you were one of the best we will miss you so much.’

And Sophie Murray said: ‘Words cant explain – I just want to say that we all have lost a truly amazing person. love you so much and miss you forever.’

Sharron Lusher, Pembrokeshire College Principal, said: ‘Staff and students from across the college wish to extend their heartfelt condolences to the student’s family and friends.

‘We are all devastated by the news and will be offering support to any students affected by this tragedy.’

Hannah’s former headteacher, Maggie Haynes of Tasker Milward School, said: ‘We are shocked and deeply saddened – she was a bright, talented and beautiful young lady’.

Over 500,000 people in the UK today have had viral or bacterial meningitis.

One in seven of those who survive are left permanently disabled, with side effects including loss of limbs, blindness, deafness or brain damage.