Finn McCormack, eight, recuperates at his Marom Creek home, south-west of%Alstonville, with his mum Louise after returning from
Finn McCormack, eight, recuperates at his Marom Creek home, south-west of%Alstonville, with his mum Louise after returning from

Schoolboy survives brush with deadly disease

By PATRIZIA REIMER patrizia.reimer@northernstar.com.au

SO, WHAT did you do on the school holidays? I nearly died, how about you?

Finn McCormack may be able to have some fun with it now, but just a couple of weeks ago the eight-year-old was not so chirpy. In fact, doctors admitted he 'nearly slipped away' a few times one night after falling in and out of a coma.

The Marom Creek boy contracted the potentially fatal pneumococcal disease while visiting family in Sydney.

What started as a simple earache very quickly led to nausea and headaches and a two-week stay in hospital with meningitis.

Pneumococcal disease is caused by an infection by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae, and can lead to three main diseases, of which meningitis is an infection of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord.

While Finn's mother, Louise, is relieved he has made a full recovery, she was worried the disease's lack of obvious symptoms nearly prevented proper treatment.

"There wasn't one defining fact I could look out for; he didn't have a very high temperature, no rash, it was more a slow combination of earache and vomiting," she said.

"If in doubt get to the doctors and trust in your own instinct. We'd been sent home twice and the second doctor we saw was very dismissive.

"It was the worst of everything in a very short time." Finn has since bounced back and doctors have given him a clean bill of health. He says he still feels tired, but is in great spirits, pleased to be home and healthy.

"For every day I spent in hospital I can have a day off this term," Finn said with glee.

The director of public health for the North Coast Area Health Service, Paul Corben, said although the disease was potentially fatal, it was vaccine preventable. About 50 cases are diagnosed each year in the region, compared with about seven cases of meningococcal.



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