Primary Prevention of Rheumatic Fever in Children within the Primary Health Care Setting
Acute rheumatic fever is an autoimmune response to Group A Streptococcus infection, predominately found in the upper respiratory tract. There is a documented latent period of about three weeks between initial infection and the development of rheumatic fever.
New Zealand continues to have high rates of rheumatic fever, particularly among Pacific peoples. Approximately 80% of these cases are in individuals aged below 15 years. The North Island has a higher incidence of rheumatic fever than the South Island.
Acute rheumatic fever can be prevented by effective treatment of Group A streptococcal throat infection. Management of people presenting with a sore throat should be guided by age, ethnicity and location. Guidelines have been developed for the diagnosis and management of sore throats and acute rheumatic fever (ARF), as well as for the primary and secondary prevention of rheumatic fever.
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