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Rheumatic fever often starts with a sore throat or skin infection caused by a bacteria called Group A Streptococcus (GAS).

Most sore throats get better on their own, but if strep throat is not treated with antibiotics it can develop into rheumatic fever where the heart, joints, brain and skin become inflamed and swollen.

If your child has a sore throat or skin infection take them to the GP. If prescribed antibiotics, make sure your child takes the full course.

If you live in Porirua and your child is Maori or Pacific aged 4-19 years you can visit a FREE sore throat clinic. For more information on clinics please see: 

www.rph.org.nz/rf

 

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What is rheumatic fever?

Rheumatic fever is a serious but preventable illness. It mainly affects Māori and Pacific children and young people (aged 4 and above), especially if they have other family members who have had rheumatic fever.

Rheumatic fever starts with a sore throat that is known as ‘strep throat’ – a throat infection caused by a bacteria called Group A Streptococcus.

Most sore throats get better on their own, but if strep throat is not treated with antibiotics it can develop into rheumatic fever where the heart, joints, brain and skin become inflamed and swollen.

Because rheumatic fever is such a serious illness, all sore throats in Māori and Pacific children and young people (aged 4 and above) need to be checked.

Free sore throat clinics

Free sore throat clinics are available to people at high risk of developing rheumatic fever who live in Hutt Valley, Wellington or Porirua.

Free sore throat checks, are available to:

  • Māori and Pacific children and young adults, aged 4 to 19 years-old and are enrolled in a general practice in Hutt Valley, Wellington or Porirua
  • Anyone aged 4 to 19 years-old with a family history of rheumatic fever
  • Anyone living in crowded circumstances

Your child's school may also offer a free sore throat clinic - check with your school.

Otherwise you can go to your family doctor or nurse to get a sore throat checked but you may have to pay a fee. Call your family doctor to check if you are eligible for a free throat check.

What does the service provide?

A nurse or pharmacist will check your child’s sore throat, take their temperature and note other symptoms like a cough or runny nose.

Your child will be offered antibiotic treatment if their symptoms indicate a strep throat infection rather than a cold. Children/young adults with a sore throat caused by a cold usually have a cough, hoarseness, red eyes, and runny nose (usually not seen with strep throat). For this reason these patients will not be offered antibiotic treatment.

For more information 

https://www.rph.org.nz/public-health-topics/illness-and-disease/rheumatic-fever/

https://www.rph.org.nz/public-health-topics/illness-and-disease/rheumatic-fever/

    Last updated 2 June 2022.