ACT Health urges people who attended the Spilt Milk festival in Canberra last weekend (Saturday 26 November 2022) to be alert to the symptoms of meningococcal disease and act immediately if they appear.
There is a case of meningococcal disease in an individual who is currently in Canberra Hospital who attended the Spilt Milk festival. Any close contacts of the individual who are at higher risk are being identified and contacted directly.
ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said that although meningococcal disease is uncommon, it can be severe and lead to life-long complications or death.
‘We are urging people who attended the Spilt Milk festival at Exhibition Park in Canberra on the weekend to be aware of the symptoms of meningococcal disease. One of the more well-known symptoms is a rash but this may not be present at all, or may come very late in the illness’, said Dr Coleman.
Symptoms of meningococcal disease are non-specific but include:
- sudden onset of fever
- neck stiffness
- joint pain
- a rash of red-purple spots or bruises
- dislike of bright lights
- nausea and vomiting.
Young children may have less specific symptoms, these may include:
- difficulty waking
- high-pitched crying
- refusal to eat.
Not all of the symptoms may be present at once.
‘People can carry meningococcal bacteria in their throats and not have symptoms, but pass it on to close contacts. If you suspect symptoms of meningococcal disease, please seek medical review immediately’, said Dr Coleman.
While meningococcal disease is now uncommon thanks to vaccination, children under five and people between the ages of 15 to 25 are at the greatest risk of contracting the disease.
Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and the community from the harmful effects of meningococcal disease.
Meningococcal ACWY vaccination is provided free for all children at 12 months of age, adolescents and people of all ages with certain medical conditions as part of the National Immunisation Program (NIP). Meningococcal ACWY is delivered to Year 10 students in the ACT through the school immunisation program.
For more information on meningococcal disease see our fact sheets.