Articles, Blog

Clinicians Talk About Rheumatic Fever

September 26, 2019


(Music) Kia ora my name’s Lance O’Sullivan, I’m a
GP working in the far north town of Kaitaia. Morena tatou ma. Kia ora, Kia ora. Yeah I see a lot of Rheumatic Fever, way too much than we should be seeing and I’m keen on being a part of stamping it out. My name is Teuila Percival and I’m a consultant paediatrician at Kidz First Children’s Hospital. Rhematic Fever is so endemic in communities such as Kaitaia, that we see generations of people that have Rhematic Fever. We see grandchildren, children and grandparents all having Rhematic Fever. That says to me a couple of things. One is, it’s been here for a long time and two is, it’s not going away. Rheumatic Fever is caused by a bug called strep, which affects children by causing an infection in the back of their throat. What we know is that if you have a strep throat, which is a bacterial infection of the throat, if you don’t get antibiotics then there’s a chance that within two or three weeks your body can react in
a way that damages the heart. They get inflammation of their joints and
they get inflammation of their heart which is what we worry most about. What we are looking at here is the size of their heart. So it’s really important that we see sore throats early, and that we give treatment and antibiotics. And they have to be taken for ten days. The thing that frightens families most is
when you say it’s affected your child’s heart. It comes as quite a shock to families to realise that they’ve got a serious illness and they don’t know how it happened. Big wide mouth for me. The long-term affects of Rhematic Fever on the individual it’s going to mean that they are going to miss weeks or months of school; they are going to have to ongoing injections, which are painful. The child goes home and they have to be in a wheel chair and carried around the house. That impacts on family, whānau . It impacts on relationships, marriages. What concerns me about Rheumatic Fever is the future of that child has changed. Kia ora, kia ora, stranger. Kia ora, kia ora whaea. Kia ora ano. The potential for that child has been influenced
by a simple thing like a sore throat. Can I have a look at the scar and just see
how its healed. Oh yeah. It’s all better. Yeah it’s not too bad aye. When I’m at home with my children and I’m
playing with them I feel a great sense of joy knowing that these children are going to grow up and be great kids, great New Zealanders. Sometimes though
when I’m holding my children I think, does every Dad and every
child have that same opportunity. What we are trying to prevent is
more kids walking around our community with this scar from having heart surgery. My dream is seeing kids playing on our street.
Māori and Pacific children walking to school and know that they are healthy and they are protected from diseases such as Rheumatic Fever. Knowing that they have a full opportunity to reach their potential. Sore throats can lead to Rhematic Fever and heart damage. If you’re in Porirua or Auckland there may
be a free sore throat clinic near you. Sore throat clinics provide free
assessment and treatment to children and young people aged four to nineteen. You can find
a clinic by calling Healthline on 0800 611 116 or visiting this
website. If you are not sure what to do, call Healthline for advice. (Music)

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