UPDATE: A Darwin woman has died just 24 hours after contracting meningococcal disease.

The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) Darwin confirmed the woman, in her 30s, passed away on New Year’s Eve at the Palmerston Regional Hospital.

CDC director Vicki Krause said she was saddened by the death.

“This is a reminder it’s a very uncommon disease, but a very serious disease, and it can progress to very serious and even death in a very short span of time,” she said.

“We know the most common strain in the Northern Territory is W strain.

“There is a quadrivalent vaccine, ACWY, and it’s free for people in the Territory aged one to 19 and it doesn’t do any help if it’s on the shelves or in the refrigerator. It needs to be in people’s arms.”

Dr Krause said testing was being undertaken to identify the strain the woman contracted.

People in close contact with the woman were alerted of her death and were given the appropriate antibiotics.

“It’s really important that people feeling unwell, they go to the doctor straight away,” Dr Krause said.

“As soon as you get to the doctor, the sooner you get your antibiotics, the better the prognosis.”

Meningococcal can occur in many forms, the main two being septicaemia (blood poisoning) and meningitis.

In the last two years, cases of meningococcal have increased significantly.

There were 32 cases of invasive meningococcal in 2017 and 10 cases last year.

The most recent fatality was in August last year when a woman from a remote Top End community near Darwin died after contracting the W strain.

The middle-aged woman, who was living in both Darwin and the remote community, became unwell on July 31 and was flown to Royal Darwin Hospital but passed away on August 2.

“Up to 10 per cent of people die from meningococcal,” Dr Krause said.

“It’s a vaccine-preventable disease. It can attack someone who’s healthy one day and 24 hours later, as we’ve witnessed, can be fatal.”

The NT News spoke with a relative, who said the family of the woman wanted to thank staff at Palmerston and Royal Darwin Hospitals for their efforts.