Screening and prevention
- Rheumatic fever
There have been around 50 South Auckland children affected by rheumatic fever each year, the largest number of cases of any DHB in New Zealand. However, we are now seeing a decline in numbers of acute rheumatic fever in New Zealand children, particularly Māori and Pacific children, which have been one of the highest rates of rheumatic fever in the developed world.
Sore throats may be caused by Group A Streptococcal infection. For some children an autoimmune response will occur where the body will attack its own tissue: heart, brain and joints.
A heart valve acts like a one-way door; it makes sure that blood pumped by the heart flows in one direction only. When the heart valve is damaged it can leak and may cause breathlessness and tiredness.
Rheumatic fever is a serious illness that is preventable. It occurs in children (aged 4-19 years) after a Group A Streptococcal (GAS) infection. In later life it may develop into chronic heart disease and require heart surgery.
Māori and Pacific children aged 5-14 years are particularly susceptible. Every sore throat matters; people with rheumatic fever can develop rheumatic heart disease which may lead to premature death. Get a sore throat checked every time.
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This page was last updated at 10:24AM on July 6, 2021. This information is reviewed and edited by Mana Kidz.