Trainee EasyJet pilot died following mosquito bite which infected brain

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A young trainee easyJet pilot died after being bitten by a mosquito which spread a lethal infection to her brain, an inquest has heard.

21-year-old Oriana Pepper developed the unfortunate infection after being bitten by a bug in Belgium.

She had just passed her Easyjet theory exam with flying colours and had gone to Belgium for her instrument ratings before the "unfortunate tragedy".

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Oriana had travelled to Antwerp with her boyfriend, James Hall who said they were "bitten multiple times without any reaction."

"We were assured by locals it was normal for the area and time of year," he said.

Sadly though when Oriana was bitten by a mosquito on her forehead close to her right eye, it soon appeared swollen and infected.

Wednesday's hearing in Ipswich was told she attended a hospital accident and emergency department on July 7 last year and was prescribed antibiotics.

Her boyfriend James drove Miss Pepper back to the hospital two days later after she collapsed.

She died in hospital three days later, on July 12 2021.

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Suffolk's senior coroner Nigel Parsley, recording a narrative conclusion, said Miss Pepper died "as a result of a serious infection caused by an insect bite to the forehead".

Her medical cause of death was recorded as septic emboli in the brain, which are obstructions of blood vessels, with an infection by bacteria called staphylococcus aureus and an insect bite to the forehead also contributing.

Mr Parsley said: "An infection has entered Oriana's skin following a bite by an insect.

"It's then gone into the carotid artery of the neck and led to septic emboli in her brain."

Addressing Miss Pepper's parents Tristan and Louisa Pepper, who attended the inquest, the coroner said: "I've never seen a case like this before.

"It's just one of those things that's just such an unfortunate tragedy for a young lady who clearly had a wonderful career and life ahead of her."

Miss Pepper, who had a twin brother Oscar and an older brother Oliver, died with her parents by her bedside.

Her mother said after the inquest that in memory of Miss Pepper, they had "set up a small scholarship to encourage other women pilots" to enter the profession, working with the British Women Pilots' Association.

"That's a positive thing from her life," she said.

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