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Rheumatic Fever


Rheumatic Fever

What is Rheumatic fever?

Rheumatic fever is a serious but preventable disease that can damage the heart, and it starts with a type of sore throat called a strep throat. It is a completely preventable disease that affects some people following an infection of the throat with a bacteria called Group A Strepococcus (Strep Throat). If left untreated the infection can lead to an autoimmune response within the body that may permanently damage the heart through the development of Rheumatic heart disease (RHD).

What is RHD?

RHD stands for Rheumatic Heart Disease. It is an autoimmune response within the body, that is caused by an untreated infection of the throat with a bacteria called Group A Strepococcus (Strep Throat). RHD may permanently damage the heart.

Who can get Rheumatic fever?

In New Zealand, Māori and Pacific children and young adults aged 4 to 19 years are more likely to get Rheumatic fever – especially if they have other whānau who have had it. Overcrowded homes put people at higher risk.

Why is it important to keep your home warm and dry?

A warmer, drier home makes it harder for germs such as strep throat to spread. If left untreated, strep throat can lead to a serious disease called Rheumatic fever. If you choose to follow even just a couple of tips, your home could be cheaper to heat and more comfortable to live in, and you will be helping to protect your family from health problems.

How can I keep my home warm and dry?

  • Open your curtains during the day and close them at night. Your windows let heat in during the day. Closing curtains before sunset keeps the heat in, and the cold out, at night
  • Stop cold air getting into your home by stopping draughts around doors, windows and fireplaces. Stopping cold air coming in makes it easier to heat your home and helps reduce the cost of heating
  • Check you have the best heating option for your home. The right heat source for your home can make your home easier to heat and reduce the cost of heating. Different heating options create different levels of condensation – choose the option that will create the least amount in your home
  • Find out if your home is insulated. If it isn’t, you may qualify to have insulation installed for free. Insulation is one of the best ways to keep your home warm
  • Open your windows (ventilate) for at least a few minutes each day. Fresh air helps to keep your home dry, makes it easier to heat your home, and helps reduce the cost of heating
  • Open windows (ventilate) in the kitchen when you cook, and in the bathroom when you shower or take a bath, to let steam out. Doing this helps to keep your home dry, which makes your home easier to heat and reduces the cost of heating
  • Wipe off any water that has collected (condensation) on walls and on the inside of windows. Doing this helps to keep your home dry, which makes your home easier to heat and reduces the cost of heating
  • Dry the washing outside or in the garage or carport. It keeps the dampness from your washing (which can build up condensation) outside of your home
  • Use bleach or white vinegar to remove mould from ceilings and walls. Mould grows in damp and wet places and it can affect your family’s health
  • Create as much space as possible between the heads of sleeping children. Kids cough and sneeze when they are asleep, and this is how germs such as strep throat can spread between sleeping children

If my child has a sore throat, what should I do?

If your child gets a sore throat, don’t ignore it. Bring them to the clinic straight away to see the doctor or nurse. If your child is given antibiotics, make sure they take them for the full 10 days – even if they feel better, to stop the sore throat turning into Rheumatic fever.


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