Sore throats need to be checked out

RECOVERING: Payeton Burkhardt is one of Tairawhiti’s rheumatic fever champions who helps to promote free strep throat tests and the importance of warm and dry homes. The campaign appears to be working with record numbers of Maori and Pasifika children having throat swabs. Picture by Liam Clayton

FOR Payeton Burkhardt, last year’s school holidays were supposed to be for playing with her younger brother and her cousins, or visiting her poppa.

Those holidays, however, would change Payeton’s life forever.

“At the start of the holidays, Payeton, aged nine, had a high temperature so I told her to stay in bed until her temperature came down”, said Payeton’s mum Jennifer.

“It got progressively worse to the point where she couldn’t move her right arm or left leg and was crying in pain, so we took her straight to the hospital.

‘‘I had no idea what was happening and it turned out Payeton had rheumatic fever”.

Payeton spent three weeks in Gisborne Hospital recovering.

Jennifer remembers the experience at Gisborne Hospital well: “There were days when Payeton couldn’t even move and it broke my heart, but after a while she got better and the doctor let us go home.”

Payeton’s recovery has been slow, she needs constant monitoring and still only attends half days at school.

“The nurses give Payeton her bicillin injections at school every month, she’s a good girl and knows how important the injections are and that they are stopping ‘rheumatics’ from affecting her heart”.

Jennifer knows the danger of strep throat and how a sore throat can lead to rheumatic fever and heart surgery. “Payeton probably got rheumatic fever when we were all living at my Dad’s house.

“There were a lot of us there.

“The nurses told us after we got home from the hospital that all of the whanau needed to get checked for strep throat and it turned out my sister and niece had it so they needed to take antibiotics.

“I’m sharing our story so maybe I can help other whanau avoid the pain of seeing their children go through the same thing.

“My advice is that if there are a lot of you living at one place and one of your kids gets a sore throat, go down to the nurse and get your free test for strep throat”.

If your child has a sore throat, take them to your local health professional to get tested.

Sore throat bugs (GAS) mainly spread through air when coughing and sneezing, so create as much space as possible between the heads of sleeping children.

Rheumatic fever is still present in our communities.

Maori and Pacific children and young adults aged 4 to 19 years are more likely to get rheumatic fever — especially if they have other whanau members who have had it.

Warmer, drier homes

— Open your curtains during the day and close them at night. Your windows let heat in during the day. Close curtains to keep the heat in, and the cold out.

— Stop cold air getting into your home by stopping draughts around doors, windows and fireplaces.

— Find out if your home is insulated. Insulation is one of the best ways to keep your home warm.

— Open windows (ventilate) in the kitchen when you cook, and in the bathroom when you shower or take a bath, to let steam out.

— Wipe off any water that has collected (condensation) on walls and on the inside of windows to keep your home dry, and easier to heat.

— Dry 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.

— If you have been checked for a sore-throat by one of the clinics and meet the criteria (infants and children being the priority), for follow-up; you may be referred to the Healthy Homes Initiative service who will contact you to organise a healthy housing assessment.

What happens if my child gets rheumatic fever?

— Rheumatic Fever has lifelong consequences for health, including years of monthly injections and possible heart valve replacement surgery.

— Rheumatic fever can lead to rheumatic heart disease. This is where there is scarring of the heart valves. This stops valves from working properly.

— Once diagnosed with rheumatic fever, a huge concern is that the future of the child has changed. – quoted by Dr Lance O’Sullivan, Northland GP.

Payeton Burkhardt is one of Tairawhiti’s Rheumatic Fever Champions who helps to promote free strep throat tests and the importance of warm and dry homes. The campaign appears to be working with record numbers of Maori and Pacifika children having throat swabs. Picture by Liam Clayton

FOR Payeton Burkhardt, last year’s school holidays were supposed to be for playing with her younger brother and her cousins, or visiting her poppa.

Those holidays, however, would change Payeton’s life forever.

“At the start of the holidays, Payeton, aged nine, had a high temperature so I told her to stay in bed until her temperature came down”, said Payeton’s mum Jennifer.

“It got progressively worse to the point where she couldn’t move her right arm or left leg and was crying in pain, so we took her straight to the hospital.

‘‘I had no idea what was happening and it turned out Payeton had rheumatic fever”.

Payeton spent three weeks in Gisborne Hospital recovering.

Jennifer remembers the experience at Gisborne Hospital well: “There were days when Payeton couldn’t even move and it broke my heart, but after a while she got better and the doctor let us go home.”

Payeton’s recovery has been slow, she needs constant monitoring and still only attends half days at school.

“The nurses give Payeton her bicillin injections at school every month, she’s a good girl and knows how important the injections are and that they are stopping ‘rheumatics’ from affecting her heart”.

Jennifer knows the danger of strep throat and how a sore throat can lead to rheumatic fever and heart surgery. “Payeton probably got rheumatic fever when we were all living at my Dad’s house.

“There were a lot of us there.

“The nurses told us after we got home from the hospital that all of the whanau needed to get checked for strep throat and it turned out my sister and niece had it so they needed to take antibiotics.

“I’m sharing our story so maybe I can help other whanau avoid the pain of seeing their children go through the same thing.

“My advice is that if there are a lot of you living at one place and one of your kids gets a sore throat, go down to the nurse and get your free test for strep throat”.

If your child has a sore throat, take them to your local health professional to get tested.

Sore throat bugs (GAS) mainly spread through air when coughing and sneezing, so create as much space as possible between the heads of sleeping children.

Rheumatic fever is still present in our communities.

Maori and Pacific children and young adults aged 4 to 19 years are more likely to get rheumatic fever — especially if they have other whanau members who have had it.

Warmer, drier homes

— Open your curtains during the day and close them at night. Your windows let heat in during the day. Close curtains to keep the heat in, and the cold out.

— Stop cold air getting into your home by stopping draughts around doors, windows and fireplaces.

— Find out if your home is insulated. Insulation is one of the best ways to keep your home warm.

— Open windows (ventilate) in the kitchen when you cook, and in the bathroom when you shower or take a bath, to let steam out.

— Wipe off any water that has collected (condensation) on walls and on the inside of windows to keep your home dry, and easier to heat.

— Dry 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.

— If you have been checked for a sore-throat by one of the clinics and meet the criteria (infants and children being the priority), for follow-up; you may be referred to the Healthy Homes Initiative service who will contact you to organise a healthy housing assessment.

What happens if my child gets rheumatic fever?

— Rheumatic Fever has lifelong consequences for health, including years of monthly injections and possible heart valve replacement surgery.

— Rheumatic fever can lead to rheumatic heart disease. This is where there is scarring of the heart valves. This stops valves from working properly.

— Once diagnosed with rheumatic fever, a huge concern is that the future of the child has changed. – quoted by Dr Lance O’Sullivan, Northland GP.

Payeton Burkhardt is one of Tairawhiti’s Rheumatic Fever Champions who helps to promote free strep throat tests and the importance of warm and dry homes. The campaign appears to be working with record numbers of Maori and Pacifika children having throat swabs. Picture by Liam Clayton

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