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"Sore Throats Matter"

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
"Sore Throats Matter"

Northland District Health Board's medical officer of health of Health Dr Clair Mills is urging Northland parents to take a sore throat seriously after notification of four cases of acute rheumatic fever in northland in the past two weeks.

The onset of acute Rheumatic Fever occurs if the throat infection groupA streptococcal is left untreated.

Acute rheumatic fever can cause serious heart damage, which could result in heart valve repair or replacement surgery later in life. It can occur if a strep throat infection is not treated.

The recent cases are a strong indication of undiagnosed groupA streptococcal throat infection in the community. While only 1-3% of untreated groupA strep throat infections go on to cause acute rheumatic fever, it is better to err on the side of caution.

Dr Mills says Rheumatic Fever is closely associated with poverty, overcrowding and is a very sensitive marker of inequalities in child health in our community.

"It is often thought of as a third world disease, but the rates of rheumatic fever in Maori and pacific kids in New Zealand are very high. In addition to treating sore throats, it is important to address other issues like poor housing, overcrowding and low incomes, with over a third of our kids living in poverty" she said.

Rheumatic Fever is a preventable disease, once the groupA strep throat infection is confirmed through a throat swab, ten days of oral antibiotic has been shown to greatly reduce the chances of rheumatic fever. The Northland DHB has been working with the Ngati Hine Health Trust, Te Hauora o Kaikohe, Whanagaroa Health and other Iwi health providers in Northland to raise awareness that "sore throats matter". Two school-based rheumatic fever prevention projects in Northland are currently running and general practitioners and practice nurses have also been sent information about sore throat management. "If your child has a sore throat see a doctor or nurse and if you are prescribed antibiotics it is important to finish the full 10-day course" added Dr Mills. Other measures we can all take to make it harder for the strep bugs to pass from one another Good Hand Hygiene - wash and dry your hands for 20 seconds with soap and running water, especially after coughing, sneezing and before eating or preparing food. Cough and sneezing etiquette - cover your coughs and sneezes Do not smoke around your children

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