General Health

NSW Teen Who Died from Meningococcal Saves 5 Lives

18-year-old Ally Behan contracted meningococcal after attending the Split Milk Music Festival in Canberra. It started out with gastro-like symptoms before her conditions worsened. Ally was unable to feel her legs and couldn’t stop vomiting.

Her parents rushed her to Canberra Hospital where she was put on life support last week. Sadly, her parents made the agonising decision to switch off her support on the weekend.

Ally is the third person to die of meningococcal in the state this year.

Ally, who is described as energetic and caring, is now also being hailed a hero. The 18-year-old donated her organs to five people, including a young child.

Family and friends paid tribute to the NSW teen, who had just finished up year 12 at Ulladulla High School.

“Anyone who knew Ally will know that there are no words to describe the widespread devastation that is being felt with the loss of our beautiful girl. Ally was young, energetic and loved her family and friends. She was beautiful, both inside and out, she loved to laugh and enjoyed some banter,” Ally’s family said in a statement to nine.com.au.
She was always there for anyone, providing love and support when needed. Ally was caring, and loyal with a strong love for animals.  Ally liked to help people and did just that in her final hours by providing the amazing gift of donating her organs which have gone to save the lives of five different people, one of which is a young child.”

Over 100 cases across Australia this year

This year there have been 29 cases of meningococcal disease reported in NSW and more than 100 across Australia, according to Meningitis Centre Australia chief executive Karen Quick.

The majority of cases have been due to the meningococcal B strain of the infection. Officials have not said which strain of the disease Ally had. Children under five and those aged 15 to 25 are at the greatest risk of the disease.

Health experts have warned those who attended the Split Milk festival to check for symptoms. The festival took place on 26 November 2022.

mum central
Source: Split Milk

UPDATE: Another 18-year-old from Victoria has also been diagnosed with meningococcal disease after attending Schoolies celebrations in Maroochydore, Queensland. Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer Deborah Friedman warned that anybody who was at social venues in the area between November 26 and December 2 should be alert for symptoms. 

About meningococcal disease

Meningococcal disease is a rare but potentially life-threatening bacterial infection. While it’s not common, babies, young children and teens are most at risk of the disease, though it can affect adults also. Meningococcal disease progresses very quickly so it’s important to be aware of the meningococcal symptoms.

Early symptoms of meningococcal:

  • High fever
  • Refusal to eat
  • Difficulty waking or extreme tiredness
  • High-pitched or moaning cry
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Pale, grey or blotchy skin
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Cold hands and feet
  • In infants, a bulging fontanelle (the soft spot on top of the head)

The drinking glass test

If there’s a rash developing, there is a ‘drinking glass test’ you can do at home to determine if the rash is harmless or not.

Doctors of South Melbourne say many harmless rashes fade and become lighter (known as ‘blanching’) when a drinking glass is placed against the affected area. A meningococcal rash will often keep its red or purple colour under the same test, though this isn’t 100% definitive.”

Trust your gut and seek help!

If your child is not their usual self, showing any of the above symptoms or even if your parent gut instinct is telling you something is not quite right, PLEASE seek advice from your doctor. If your child’s ill health continues or gets worse, don’t hesitate to head straight into your local hospital’s emergency department.

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    Avatar of Jenna Galley

    Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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