University on red alert after student killed by meningitis
Students are on alert for the potential signs of meningitis after a deadly strain is believed to have claimed the life of one of their university classmates.
Tributes were paid last night to University College Cork (UCC) student Gráinne O'Donnell (21) who died from suspected meningitis.
Ms O'Donnell, from Cahir, Co Tipperary, was a third-year Early Childhood Studies student at the Cork university.
College sources described her as a bright, intelligent and popular young woman who adored her course, her classmates and student life in Cork.
UCC Students Union issued a tribute simply saying that Ms O'Donnell had "passed away due to a brief illness".
The Tipperary student died yesterday morning.
"May we express our sympathy and condolences to Gráinne's family and her fellow students and friends. May she rest in peace," UCC Students Union president Eolann Sheehan said.
UCC Students Union and the UCC Caplaincy service will now be providing transport for students who wish to attend Ms O'Donnell's funeral arrangements.
Counselling will also be provided for any of her friends or classmates that require it. Ms O'Donnell will repose in her family home until tomorrow morning. She will then be removed to St Mary's Church in Cahir for 11.30am Requiem Mass.
Information was posted at the college on the potential symptoms of meningitis which can kill within hours unless treated with antibiotics.
The death led to calls to the helpline of the Meningitis Research Foundation. It is unclear what strain of meningitis was involved and laboratory tests are awaited.
A spokeswoman for the charity said it was saddened to hear of the death.
"We would like to offer our sincere condolences to her family and friends; our thoughts are with them at this extremely difficult time."
She said it shared many of the symptoms of other, more common, everyday illnesses such as the flu or even a hangover.
As a result it was vital that people were able to recognise the signs and symptoms of the disease, particularly the symptoms that were more unique to meningitis, said a spokeswoman.
Anyone with any questions can call the Freefone Helpline on: 1800 41 33 44 or visit our web site www.meningitis.org.