Health officials confirmed the death of Pembrokeshire College Art student, Hannah Gwilliam, who died of meningococcal meningitis group B. Unfortunately, this strain of the deadly bacteria is not vaccine preventable. Hannah was a healthy, athletic & active teen. Always energetic she seemed to be the epitome of health, glamor and life. She experienced a severe headache after returning home from school and died only four hours later.
According to the Meningitis Trust & the Meningitis Research Foundation, the group B strain of the meningococcus causes the majority of cases of meningitis in the UK and Ireland accounting for between 85- 90% of meningococcal disease infections. The most at risk groups are teenagers and young adults (ages 14 to 24), because of their lifestyle but meningococcal meningitis can strike at any age. The bacteria is passed from one person to another in activities such as kissing, sharing food, drinks or, lipstick with someone who is carrying the bacteria in their throat and saliva. At any given time 10 to 25% of the population at large are healthy carriers. This means that they have the meningitis bacteria in their throats, but it has not crossed their membrane and they are not ill.
The Public Health Wales consultant in communicable disease control, Dr. Mac Walapu, has arranged for people who were in close contact with Hannah to receive prophylactic antibiotics to prevent them from becoming ill or spreading the disease.
Students were encouraged to be keenly aware of the symptoms because if you have contracted meningitis minutes count. Earlier symptoms can mimic the flu. Other symptoms can be a throbbing headache, sudden fever, stiff neck, vomiting and rash. Get medical help immediately because it can save you or your loved ones’ life.