Spilt Milk: Meningococcal warning after ACT music festival

The ACT state government is warning anyone who attended a popular Canberra music festival in November to remain vigilant for symptoms of a deadly disease they may have been exposed to at the venue.

Health authorities are urging people who attended Spilt Milk festival on the weekend of November 26 to keep an eye out for symptoms of meningococcal disease, and act immediately if they identify any.

A person who attended the festival has since been diagnosed and is in Canberra Hospital.

Authorities are identifying close contacts of the individual and contacting them directly.

ACT chief health officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said meningococcal, although uncommon, can be severe and lead to lifelong 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.

Common symptoms of the disease include a sudden onset fever, headaches, neck stiffness, joint pain, a red/purple spotty or bruise like rash, irritability to bright light, nausea and vomiting.

Symptoms in children and young people are less common, but can include irritability, difficulty walking, high-pitched crying and loss of appetite.

“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.

Vaccinations against the disease have rendered it “uncommon,” but kids under five years old and people aged between 15-25 are most at risk of contracting meningococcal.

Meningococcal vaccinations are available for free for all children at 12 months, adolescents and people of all ages with medical conditions through the national immunisation program.

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