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Final act of teen Ally Behan who died of meningococcal after Spilt Milk festival

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A teen who died from meningococcal after attending the Spilt Milk music festival in Canberra has saved five lives as an organ donor.

NSW Health announced on Monday Ally Behan, 18, was the third person to die in the state this year due to the disease.

After returning from the festival on November 26 back to her home in Manyana, on the NSW south coast, Ms Behan fell ill and was taken to Canberra Hospital for treatment – where she sadly died.

But a beautiful final act saved five lives.

“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,” Ms Behan’s family said in a statement provided to Nine.

She was described as a caring and loyal young woman who “was always there for anyone” and loved animals.

“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,” the family said.

“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.

“She was very close to her mum, dad and her older brother. Family was important to Ally, who was just as close to her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins – who were always there for a cheeky 4am phone call.”

Ms Behan had just graduated from Ulladulla High School.

The NSW Education Department said they were deeply saddened by Ms Behan’s tragic death and additional counselling and wellbeing support was being provided for all students and staff affected.

Health experts have warned those who attended the popular Spilt Milk music festival in Canberra to check for symptoms.

Meningococcal disease is a rare but serious and sometimes fatal infection.

On Wednesday, the Victorian Department of Health confirmed another 18-year-old, who had attended Schoolies in Maroochydore, Queensland, had been infected.

Anyone who has visited the Sunshine Coast city between November 26 and December 2 was told to be alert to symptoms and act “immediately” if they appear.

“People who suspect symptoms of this disease should immediately seek medical attention – early treatment for meningococcal is lifesaving,” deputy chief health officer Deborah Friedman said.

“The close contact between young people at events like Schoolies may have placed them at an increased risk of contracting this infection.”

Health authorities say the disease is caused by specific strains of bacteria found in the upper respiratory tract, commonly infecting children under five and people aged 15 to 25.

So far this year, there have been more than 100 meningococcal cases across Australia, according to Meningitis Centre Australia chief executive Karen Quick.

“The last few weeks it’s really peaked; spring and around Christmas time is when we see more cases,” she said.

Ms Quick also noted that there had been a higher number of cases this year. The majority of cases have been due to meningococcal B.

Officials have not said which strain of the disease Ms Behan had, but Ms Quick told The Canberra Times the teenager was not vaccinated against strain B. It is the only common strain not included in the free meningococcal vaccine offered to Year 10 students.

Babies can receive the meningococcal B vaccine from six weeks of age and the meningococcal ACWY vaccine at 12 months.

Meningococcal symptoms

  • Severe, unexplained limb pain
  • Difficulty waking up
  • High-pitched crying in babies
  • Severe headache
  • Upset by bright lights
  • Stiff neck
  • Red-purple rash which doesn’t disappear when pressed with a glass

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