Meet Tristan and Justin. The 11-year-old twins know first hand that a sore throat left untreated can lead to rheumatic fever.
Tristan's rheumatic fever led to open heart surgery
The 11-year-old twins in the video, Tristan and Justin, know first hand that a sore throat left untreated can lead to rheumatic fever. Justin avoided rheumatic fever. He had a throat swab which showed his strep throat and he completed a course of antibiotics. Unfortunately for Tristan, a case of rheumatic fever led to open heart surgery.
Rheumatic fever can start with a sore throat
Rheumatic fever starts with a sore throat that is known as 'strep throat' - a throat infection caused by a bacteria called Group A streptococcus.
Most sore throats get better on their own, but if strep throat is not treated with antibiotics it can cause rheumatic fever in at-risk children.
Check every time your child has a sore throat if they are at risk
Because rheumatic fever is such a serious illness, all sore throats in Māori and Pacific children and young people (aged 3 and above) need checking.
If your at-risk child has strep throat, they'll need antibiotics to clear up the infection before it can develop into rheumatic fever.
If your child is taking antibiotics, it's important that they take the full 10-day course to stop them from developing rheumatic fever.
Watch Tonielle Shaw, 12, share her battle with rheumatic fever. She reports on how school clinics are now reducing cases in her region (KEA Kids News)
Keeping your home warm and dry
Keep your home warm and dry, and create as much space as possible to spread out around your home (rather than having to crowd in the same room).
Having more warm rooms and more sleeping spaces available means germs like strep throat are less likely to spread.
For tips that can make your home cheaper to heat and more comfortable to live in, see 'Keeping your home warm and dry'. Even following just a couple of will help protect your family from health problems.
This page last reviewed 05 March 2021.
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