Health alert issued after Spilt Milk attendee in Canberra hospitalised with meningococcal

A similar alert was released after three cases of the rare disease were reported at Splendour In The Grass

A public health alert has been issued to attendees of this year’s Spilt Milk festival in Canberra, imploring them to be wary of symptoms for meningococcal after a punter was hospitalised with the rare disease.

According to the notice, which can be read in its entirety here, close contacts of the concertgoer are “at higher risk” of contracting meningococcal – “a serious illness that usually causes meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) and/or septicaemia (blood poisoning),” per NSW Health – and are “being identified and contacted directly”.

In a statement, the ACT’s chief health officer, Dr Kerryn Coleman, said: “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.”


Other symptoms of meningococcal include a sudden onset of fever, headaches, neck stiffness, joint pain, a rash of red-purple spots or bruises, sensitivity to bright lights, nausea and vomiting. It’s noted that young children may experience “less specific symptoms”, but theirs specifically include irritability, difficulty walking, high-pitched crying and a refusal to eat.

Noting that the groups most susceptible to meningococcal are children under five and people aged 15-25, Coleman continued in her statement: “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.”

A similar alert was issued by NSW Health after this year’s Splendour In The Grass, where at least three cases of meningococcal were reported.

Spilt Milk took place in Canberra last Saturday (November 26), while the Ballarat edition was held yesterday (December 3), and the inaugural Gold Coast edition is running today (December 4).

In other Spilt Milk news, it was reported earlier this week that CanTEST (Canberra’s government-backed drug-testing service) was forced to turn people away due to to overwhelming demand. Researchers at the clinic collected and tested 106 samples altogether – almost double what they’d collected in their first month of opening back in July.

Meanwhile, one of the paddocks used as a car park at the Exhibition Centre (where the festival was held) caught fire early in the afternoon, leading to one punter being injured and several cars damaged.


NME was on the ground at Spilt Milk in Canberra, giving the festival – the line-up for which featured acts like Flume, The Wombats, Steve Lacy and Genesis Owusua five-star review.

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