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Family confirm Bristol teen has died from meningitis after falling ill at Boardmasters Festival

George Zographou's family announced on Facebook that he died this afternoon. Photo:

The family of an 18-year-old teenager who fell ill with bacterial meningitis at the Boardmasters surfing festival, has confirmed on Facebook that he has died.

George Zographou, from Bristol, was taken to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro by ambulance on Saturday, 12 August.

An extract from the post George's sister, Nicola Zographou, uploaded on Facebook:

George took his final breathes on Wednesday August 16th at 13.34 all by himself without the machine. The three of us holding his hand. My mum was in the bed with him whilst our closest magical friends and family were not too far away....

The last 5 days have been so confusing....I feel like I've been living someone else life. How am I reading public health statements and news articles about my little brother? How is my George, a fatal meningococcal B statistic now?

I truly hope that no one ever has to experience this utter true life tragedy or see any family members in this condition."

– Nicola Zographou, George's sister

He was the third pupil to be diagnosed with the condition from St Brendan's College in the past 14 months. Among them, 16-year-old Izzy Gentry, who died just two days after being admitted to hospital.

George's family had raised concerns on social media about the quality of treatment he received at the Boardmasters Festival.

George Zographou was the 3rd pupil diagnosed with the condition from St Brendan's College in 14 months. Credit: Family

Organisers of the festival say they sympathise with the family's loss and their onsite doctor has issued a detailed rebuttal of criticisms of George's care:

  1. It was a doctor and paramedic that initially responded to George in his tent - he was seen immediately by a senior doctor. He was transferred to the main medical tent immediately after transfer by buggy. he was able to walk with minimal assistance. At no point was he 'turned away from the medical tent' In fact he remained in the medical tent all the time prior to transfer to the welfare area.

  2. At no point was he considered by the medical team to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol and was not treated as such

  3. He was given analgesia due to pain. He was fully monitored in the majors section of the medical area and had regular observations throughout. At no point was he left alone under our care.

  4. He received a thorough examination by 2 doctors and was also seen by 2 experienced critical care paramedics. At NO POINT did he show any signs of sepsis or indeed Meningococcal disease. He did not trigger any markers on a National Early Warning Score (NEWS) chart or trigger any Sepsis indicators. This was reviewed by at least 3 clinical staff.

  5. Blood tests for Lactate (an indicator of sepsis), Blood Glucose (That can rise in Sepsis), Venous Blood Gasses (that can show lack of oxygen and acidosis), Haemoglobin and Also Urine Testing for infection were all NEGATIVE.

  6. He was conscious and alert with us during his stay in the medical centre and had something to eat and drinks. He was transferred to the Festival Welfare Tent at approximately 15:10. He was walking with assistance and during his time at main medical he was texting his friends and made phone calls.

  7. At approximately 1650 the Nurse in the welfare tent noticed a change in his condition and called for medical help. An initial team responded from the medical tent immediately next to the welfare tent and called for the on site resuscitation team. The team arrived within 90 seconds of the call. He was then attended by 2 doctors and 2 critical care paramedics and received full advanced life support. He had a return of a pulse within 4 - 6 minutes.

  8. He was transferred by one of our critical care transfer ambulances with an anaesthetist and paramedic. He left the site at approximately 17.15.

  9. The full medical team at Boardmasters festival consisted of 36 staff covering 4 medical / first aid units with 24 hour cover. The main medical centre had 4 minors bays, 4 majors bays and 2 full resuscitation bays. There was a total of 11 defibrillators on site during the festival. There were 3 ambulances on site 24 hours a day.

– Boardmasters' onsite doctor
George Zographou was taken to the Royal Cornwall Hospital after attending the Boardmasters festival on Saturday. Credit: ITV West Country

The medical team that treated him on site said they believed George had been unwell before attending the festival.

A teenage male was seen and assessed on site by 2 intensive care doctors and 2 critical care paramedics. We understand he was unwell prior to attending the festival.

The patient was assessed fully including initial blood and urine tests to identify life threatening illness that were all initially negative. He was transferred with a doctor and paramedic to hospital after his condition deteriorated after transfer to a welfare area."

– Emergency Doctors Medical Service

George died of the rare Meningitis B strain. The Meningitis B vaccine is only given to babies and 1-year-olds for free. It is available to adults privately and costs around £200.

The ACWY vaccine, which protects against four strains of the disease, is given to year nine pupils at school, but anyone under 25 years of age has to get it from their GP.

Ther vaccinations against certain causes of meningitis include pneumococcal vaccine, MMR vaccine, memningitis

Nurses have called for more teenagers to receive vaccination in order to protect themselves against meningitis before starting university.

210
cases of Meningitis W were reported in the UK by 2016

In 2009, 22 cases of Meningitis W were reported in the UK. That soared too 210 cases by 2016.

Young people are especially noted as being at risk.

So estimates are that up to about 20-25% of teenagers can carry that bacteria, so potentially they are more susceptible to an invasive disease.

– Mike Wade, Public Health England

A Crowdfunding page has been created to raise money for George's family. It was created by musician Darren Sims, and has already raised £405.

The symptoms of bacterial meningitis and septicaemia, which may appear in any order or not at all, include:

  • fever - cold hands and feet
  • headache
  • sore
  • drowsiness
  • severe muscle pain
  • vomiting
  • confusion and irritability
  • rash (that does not disappear under glass).
  • convulsions and seizures
  • dislike of bright lights
  • stiff neck

Anyone who may think they are experiencing any of the symptoms above is advised to trust their instincts and get medical help immediately by calling 999 or going to the nearest accident and emergency department.

The following organisations can be contacted for more information: