Rheumatic Fever

Hawke’s Bay District Health Board works with local community providers and Health Hawke’s Bay (PHO) to spread the word about Rheumatic Fever and prevention.

A sore throat can lead to rheumatic fever.  Rheumatic fever is very serious and can cause heart damage

If your child has a sore throat, please get them checked straight away by taking them to your local doctor or health professional.

Children and young people from Pacific and Māori communities are the most vulnerable and a lot of awareness and activity will be happening throughout our region, including in some schools, as we work to highlight the importance of getting sore throats checked.

What is 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. This 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 cause premature death in adults.

Watch this informative video on why sore throats are important and whey they need to be treated urgently.


Does your child have a sore throat?

Every time your child has a sore throat it could be serious.  Don’t ignore, take them to your family doctor or health professional and have them checked straight away. 

You can also call Healthline on 0800 611 116 to find out more.

Some families get rheumatic fever more than others.  So if a member of your family has had rheumatic fever, it’s even more important to get your child’s sore throat checked.

If your child is given antibiotics, it’s important they take them for the whole 10 days, even if they feel better, to stop the sore throat turning into rheumatic fever.