British pilot in training dies in Belgium from mosquito bite

Oriana Pepper, a pilot in training, has died of an infection after a mosquito bite.

The British 21-year-old was in Antwerp for her practical lessons when disaster struck.

The future pilot was stung in the right eye by a mosquito, which was fatal to her, according to the BBC.

After the student in the United Kingdom had successfully completed her theoretical exams, she left for Belgium to complete her pilot training.

On July 7, 2021, Pepper went to the hospital after the mosquito bite near her eye became swollen and infected. She was given antibiotics and allowed to go home. The meds didn’t work and two days later she started delirious. She got sicker and sicker, could barely speak and collapsed. Her partner took her to the hospital. At the hospital, they couldn’t do enough for the 21-year-old. She died on July 12 surrounded by her parents.

Her father told me that his daughter was chasing her dreams and loved nothing more than flying. In her memory, Oriana’s parents set up a small scholarship for women who also want to become pilots.

Septic embolism

The coroner, Nigel Parsley, has now concluded that the infection caused by the insect bite was the reason for Pepper’s death. She had a so-called ‘septic embolism’: a dislodged blood clot, which in this case was infected with the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.

The student has had sheer bad luck, because only in rare cases is this a life-threatening illness, the doctor explains. “I’ve never seen anything like it before. What an unfortunate tragedy for someone who had a fantastic career ahead of him.” Pepper had a genetic defect in the OTULIN gene, which, a recent study found, could cause the infected mosquito bite to be fatal.


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