A young woman who attended Spilt Milk festival in Canberra has tragically died of meningococcal.

9News confirmed the woman — who was in her late teens — attended Spilt Milk, but said it’s unknown where she contracted meningococcal. She is the third person in NSW to die of the illness this year.

Health Protection NSW executive director Dr Jeremy McAnulty stressed the importance of early intervention.

“Meningococcal disease symptoms can appear suddenly and become very serious very quickly,” he said in a statement.

“I urge everyone not to discount symptoms when they appear or assume it may be just a mild infection.

“If you suspect meningococcal disease, don’t wait for the rash – see a doctor immediately.”

ACT Health released a statement on Saturday December 3 asking Spilt Milk festivalgoers to be aware of meningococcal symptoms. At the time, it said someone who attended the festival was in hospital with the illness and that higher risk close contacts of the person were being identified and contacted by ACT Health.

While meningococcal is rare thanks to vaccination, it has the potential to be very severe and even deadly. It can be fatal within hours if it’s untreated.

ACT Health said people between the ages of 15 and 25 as well as kids under five are most at risk of the illness.

So what are the symptoms?

They include:

  • a sudden onset fever
  • neck stiffness
  • headache
  • joint pain
  • nausea and vomiting
  • aversion to bright light
  • rash of bruises or red-purple spots

The symptoms for children can be slightly different. They include irritability, refusing to eat, high-pitched crying and difficulty waking.

“If symptoms rapidly worsen, or if you child is very unwell, call Triple Zero or go straight to your nearest emergency department,” McAnulty said.

People who contract meningococcal may not have all of the symptoms.

ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman has asked Spilt Milk Canberra attendees to make sure they know what the symptoms are.

“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,” she said.

“People can carry meningococcal bacteria in their throats and not have symptoms, but pass it on to close contacts.”

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a meningococcal case related to an Aussie festival. Three suspected cases of meningococcal were linked to Splendour in the Grass back in August. Sadly, a man in his 40s died after contracting the illness.

Dr Coleman said if you suspect you have meningococcal symptoms, you should seek medical review immediately.

Image: Instagram / Spilt Milk