Public | Northland DHB


A child’s untreated sore throat (‘strep throat’) can lead to rheumatic fever.

Rheumatic fever is a serious preventable disease which may cause permanent heart damage.

You can help your whanau by understanding what rheumatic fever is and taking sore throats seriously.

Signs and Symptoms

Rheumatic fever often starts with a sore throat (a streptococcal infection).  A few weeks later the following symptoms may develop:

  • sore or swollen joints
  • a skin rash
  • a fever
  • stomach pain
  • jerky movements.
Take Sore Throats Seriously

By taking sore throats seriously, we can help prevent life long illness and suffering for our tamariki.

  • Stop sore throats hurting hearts. An untreated sore throat (‘strep throat’) can lead to rheumatic fever.
  • If a child complains of a sore throat make sure they are checked by a doctor.
  • If a ‘strep throat’ is diagnosed, the doctor will usually prescribe a 10 day course of antibiotics.
  • It is important to complete the whole 10 day course to prevent rheumatic fever from developing.
Rheumatic fever not Uncommon in Northland

Those most at risk of developing rheumatic fever are:

  • Children aged between 5 -15 years
  • Maori and Pacific (>95% of cases in Northland are Maori)
  • People who share a house with lots of others.


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