Two cases of rheumatic fever hit Gisborne

TWO young Gisborne people have been diagnosed with rheumatic fever and hospitalised in the past month.

Hauora Tairawhiti Medical Officer of Health Dr Anura Jayasinghe said health organisations had been focusing on eradicating rheumatic fever from the district.

“We were doing really well, with a decrease from 10 hospitalisations due to rheumatic fever in 2009 to no cases reported in the 12 months before October,” Dr Jayasinghe said.

“Unfortunately for the young people affected, their whanau and all health professionals working towards eliminating this disease, this is a significant setback.

“To avoid damage to their heart, the young people will need bicillin injections every month for the next 10 years or until they are 21 years old, whichever is longest.”

Nearly 50 children and young people in this district receive monthly bicillin injections.

Rheumatic fever starts with a sore throat that can easily be ignored.

“It likes cold, damp, overcrowded homes and the sore throat leads to chronic heart damage if not treated.

“Getting all sore throats checked out promptly is the key to avoiding this disease,” Dr Jayasinghe said.

Throat swabs and antibiotics are free for those aged between 4 and 19 at all GP practices in the district.

“The swabs are generally done by the practice nurse. You don’t have to wait for an appointment with your doctor.

“Group A streptococcal throat infection is what causes the damage if untreated.

“Antibiotics stop the infection and rheumatic fever developing.

“Streptococcal sore throats cannot be cured by sucking on a throat lozenge. They require a course of antibiotics taken for the full 10 days.”

Tairawhiti is one of 11 districts targeted in the five-year national campaign.

“Due to our previous success, the national campaign is now focused on Auckland, where rheumatic fever is still prevalent,’’ Dr Jayasinghe said.

“The recent cases in Tairawhiti prove that we must be ever-vigilant.”

Rheumatic fever mainly affects Pacific Island and Maori children and young people between 4 and 19.

As well as getting all sore throats checked, keeping homes warm and dry makes a difference.

  • Get all sore throats checked at your GP practice, especially children aged 4-19.
  • If you are given antibiotics, finish the whole course.
  • Keep the family home warm and dry.

TWO young Gisborne people have been diagnosed with rheumatic fever and hospitalised in the past month.

Hauora Tairawhiti Medical Officer of Health Dr Anura Jayasinghe said health organisations had been focusing on eradicating rheumatic fever from the district.

“We were doing really well, with a decrease from 10 hospitalisations due to rheumatic fever in 2009 to no cases reported in the 12 months before October,” Dr Jayasinghe said.

“Unfortunately for the young people affected, their whanau and all health professionals working towards eliminating this disease, this is a significant setback.

“To avoid damage to their heart, the young people will need bicillin injections every month for the next 10 years or until they are 21 years old, whichever is longest.”

Nearly 50 children and young people in this district receive monthly bicillin injections.

Rheumatic fever starts with a sore throat that can easily be ignored.

“It likes cold, damp, overcrowded homes and the sore throat leads to chronic heart damage if not treated.

“Getting all sore throats checked out promptly is the key to avoiding this disease,” Dr Jayasinghe said.

Throat swabs and antibiotics are free for those aged between 4 and 19 at all GP practices in the district.

“The swabs are generally done by the practice nurse. You don’t have to wait for an appointment with your doctor.

“Group A streptococcal throat infection is what causes the damage if untreated.

“Antibiotics stop the infection and rheumatic fever developing.

“Streptococcal sore throats cannot be cured by sucking on a throat lozenge. They require a course of antibiotics taken for the full 10 days.”

Tairawhiti is one of 11 districts targeted in the five-year national campaign.

“Due to our previous success, the national campaign is now focused on Auckland, where rheumatic fever is still prevalent,’’ Dr Jayasinghe said.

“The recent cases in Tairawhiti prove that we must be ever-vigilant.”

Rheumatic fever mainly affects Pacific Island and Maori children and young people between 4 and 19.

As well as getting all sore throats checked, keeping homes warm and dry makes a difference.

  • Get all sore throats checked at your GP practice, especially children aged 4-19.
  • If you are given antibiotics, finish the whole course.
  • Keep the family home warm and dry.

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