Sore Throats and Rheumatic Fever

ENT_sore_throat_blogLakes DHB Child Health Services are still seeing too many children admitted with Acute Rheumatic Fever.

How do we develop Rheumatic fever? Rheumatic fever can develop after a ‘strep throat’ – a throat infection caused by a Group A Streptococcus (GAS) bacteria. Most strep throats get better and don’t lead to rheumatic fever. However, in a small number of people an untreated strep throat leads to rheumatic fever one to five weeks after a sore throat.

How does Rheumatic affect us? Rheumatic Fever can cause the heart, joints, brain and skin to become inflamed and swollen. While the symptoms of rheumatic fever may disappear on their own, the inflammation can cause rheumatic heart disease, where there is scarring of the heart valves. People with rheumatic heart disease may need heart valve replacement surgery. Rheumatic heart disease can also cause premature death in adults.

Who is most at risk? In 2015, 98 people were admitted to hospital for the first time with rheumatic fever. This year in the Lakes area there have already been 4 new cases identified. Māori and Pacific children and young adults (aged 4–19 years) have the highest rates of rheumatic fever.

What can YOU do to prevent someone in your family developing Rheumatic Fever? Rheumatic fever can be prevented by prompt diagnosis of a strep throat infection and treatment with antibiotics. If your child or a child in your care complains of having a sore throat, bring them into the surgery to see one of our nurses and have a throat swab. If your child is under the age of 17 years, there is no charge for this service.

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