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Sore throats matter - get your tamariki and rangatahi checked by a health professional
24 April 2020

All tamariki/children and rangatahi/young people with a sore throat should be checked right away by a health professional because sore throats may be caused by COVID-19 or Strep A.

Strep A can lead to rheumatic fever, which is a serious preventable disease which can cause permanent heart damage.

“Unfortunately we continue to receive reports of cases of acute rheumatic fever during this period of national disruption,” says Dr Jim Miller, Medical Officer of Health for Toi Te Ora Public Health.

Rheumatic fever often starts with a sore throat (a streptococcal infection).  A few weeks later the child may develop sore or swollen joints, skin rash, fever, stomach pain and jerky movements.  Although these symptoms may disappear, the heart valves may be damaged and this damage may be permanent.  A child diagnosed with rheumatic fever requires long-term follow up including monthly injections of Penicillin to stop further attacks.

“Fortunately, rheumatic fever is preventable, provided sore throats are treated correctly.  If your child complains of a sore throat call your doctor promptly to arrange for them to be checked.  Sore throats matter,” says Dr Miller.

Sore throats can also get checked at any COVID-19 Community Based Assessment Centres (CBACs). CBACs are open everyday and are free. See here for details on locations and opening hours: https://covid19.bopdhb.govt.nz/assessment-centres/ 

Being checked for a sore throat is an essential activity; you can travel to do this no matter the COVID-19 alert level. 

“If a ‘strep throat’ is diagnosed, the doctor will usually prescribe a 10 day course of antibiotics,” says Dr Miller.

Taking sore throats seriously will help prevent life long illness and suffering for our tamariki and rangatahi. For more information visit: www.toiteora.govt.nz/rheumatic_fever

Last modified: 26 Mar 2020
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