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Rheumatic Fever NZ cases 14 times higher than other countries in the OECD


New Zealand has one of the highest rates of acute rheumatic fever in the OECD

figuring 14 times higher than other countries and it is totally preventable.


92% of all cases of rheumatic fever affect Maori and Pacific children with Auckland alone representing 60% of cases.

Other regions include Bay of Plenty, Capital and Coast, Hawkes Bay, Hutt Valley, Lakes, Northland, Tairawhiti and Waikato with very few cases in the south island.

ARF rates in New Zealand have failed to decrease since the 1980s and remain some of the highest reported in a developed country.

There are large, and now widening, ethnic disparities in ARF incidence.

ARF is so concentrated by age group, ethnicity and geographical area that highly targeted interventions could be considered, based on these characteristics.

There is a strong link between poor housing conditions and overcrowding.

The government has fast- tracked children at risk to the top of the list for state housing in Auckland and has extended this to apply to the additional eight regions as of the 1 March 2014.

Families with serous or urgent housing needs will be prioritized if they have 1 or more members in the family who have been hospitalised for lower respiratory tract infections in their current housing over the past two years, and their household suffers from over-crowding.

The criteria has been extended to include families where people are still receiving treatment for rheumatic fever.

Signs and symptoms

It all starts with a sore throat.

It is very important to have this checked by your doctor to determine a streptococcal infection is present especially if your child is in the high risk age group between 4 to 15 years.

In high risk areas a school-based clinic initiative has been implemented to identify a ‘sore throat’ to help in early treatment of the disease.

And the long term treatment is expensive.

With long term drug treatment, hospitalisation and possibly heart surgery.

For the least severe cases oral antibiotics are recommended for a 10 day initial course.

More severe cases require life-long monthly injections of penicillin to prevent damage to the heart and later surgery.

Some studies show a link between poverty and rheumatic fever and conclusive evidence of poor quality housing and overcrowding has prompted the above action by government.

More needs to be done to eradicate the disease in New Zealand.

Education is a priority as well as affordable housing.

An increase in the minimum wage will help.

It has been said you need a minimum of $18.40 per hour to adequately feed a family of 4.

There are things you can do to help reduce your risk.

Ensure you have an adequate warm dry home that is not overcrowded.

Eat a diet of fresh food and reduce or eliminate high sugar foods.

If anyone in the home has a sore throat get immediate medical attention to ensure a strep infection is not present.

For those children who have a strep throat infection bed rest is recommended until all inflammation has gone.

For more information on rheumatic fever visit: Natural treatment of rheumatic fever

Also see relating articles: WOF for housing.

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Deborah Harper

Article by Debbie Harper

Debbie Harper is a self-published author and an accomplished blogger. She's the founder of www.happyhomesnz.com and the author of the book “The Number #1 Rule for a Long and Healthy Life”. If you like this post, you can stay up to date with the latest information from www.happyhomesnz.com by subscribing via RSS, or receive articles directly in your inbox. Then click here to download a free report on "The Number #1 Rule for a Long and Healthy Life".