DHB devises plan to fight rheumatic fever

KELSEY FLETCHER
Last updated 09:00 21/12/2013

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Increasing rates of rheumatic fever across the country have prompted the MidCentral District Health Board to release a prevention plan for the region.

Rheumatic fever is an inflammatory disease that may develop after an infection with group A Streptococcus bacteria, such as strep throat and scarlet fever. The disease can affect the heart, joints, skin, and brain and most people with the condition will be admitted to hospital.

Eight new cases were admitted to hospital in the MidCentral region between July 2009 and June 2012.

MidCentral medical officer of health Dr Robert Weir said the board had produced a rheumatic fever prevention plan to keep on top of the disease and work towards a two-thirds reduction in the number of cases nationally by 2017.

"The health board, in collaboration with the Central Primary Health Organisation and other primary care providers and organisations, will undertake a targeted educational strategy to improve the management of sore throats in the health board's communities," he said. "It will use its Map of Medicine tool to develop localised collaborative clinical pathways for sore-throat management, after the release of the revised national sore-throat-management guidelines, expected in December.

"The clinical pathway will give primary healthcare professionals rapid access to the most up-to-date, evidenced-based, and locally relevant guidance to improve the triage, diagnosis and treatment of sore throats."

There have been 25 cases reported in the region, with two-thirds occurring in Maori and a quarter in Pacific Islanders.

Since 2002, 96 per cent of the cases in the region occurred in children and young adults aged under 20. About 70 per cent of the cases occur in school-aged children, with cases increasing nationally over recent years.

The two main focus areas of the rheumatic fever prevention plan are quick and effective management of sore throats in primary care according to national best-practice guidelines, and effective follow-up of identified cases to ensure appropriate secondary treatment.

The prevention plan can be found on the health board's website.

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- Manawatu Standard

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