Darwin meningococcal victim ‘a beautiful soul’
A DARWIN woman who died from meningococcal disease on New Year's Eve has been remembered as a "gorgeous sister" and "beautiful soul".
Mary-Ellen Hurley, 34, died hours after presenting at Palmerston hospital late on New Year's Eve.
She had contracted the W strain of meningococcal disease, which is the common strain in the Northern Territory, the Centre for Disease Control said on Friday.
Ms Hurley's sister Tess wrote on Facebook that "our gorgeous sister, Mary-Ellen Hurley, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly just prior to midnight on Monday 31 December 2018 at Palmerston Regional Hospital".
She had been sedated at the time of her passing, was not in any pain and "mum, Jo, her partner Justin and I were all by her side at the time of her passing.
"We understand that you would all have so many unanswered questions about what happened to Em (as do we), however we please ask that our family are given time to process our loss and grieve during this incredibly sad time," she wrote.
All those that had been in close contact with her and were at risk had been contacted by the Centre for Disease Control and provided with antibiotics, she said.
"Mary-Ellen was one of the most kind, generous and beautiful people I have had the pleasure of knowing," friend April Kaye posted.
"Mary ellen was such a beautiful soul. Loved by soo (sic) many," another friend Carlie Richards wrote.
Director for the Centre for Disease Control Dr Vicki Krause this week urged people to get vaccinations for meningococcal, and particularly parents to get them for children.
The A,C,W, and Y strain vaccine is available to people 19 and under for free with a separate B vaccine also available.
Meningococcal disease was fatal in 5-10 per cent of cases.
"Meningococcal disease can attack healthy people, so a person can be totally healthy one day and 24 hours later, as we've witnessed here, can be dead," Dr Krause said.
It was therefore crucial that people who might have the disease and the associated fevers and aches or been exposed to someone with it to get to a doctor as quickly as possible to get the appropriate antibiotics, Dr Krause said.
There were 10 cases in the NT last year and 32 in 2017 due to an outbreak in central Australia but the trend before that was only one to four cases a year.
A woman and a child died in separate cases in the Top End last year after contracting the 'W' and 'B' meningococcal strains.