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HealthInfo Canterbury

Rheumatic fever & rheumatic heart disease

This page has links to information in other languages.

Rheumatic fever is caused by a bacterial streptococcal infection. The streptococcal infection starts as a sore throat (strep throat) and can become rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever is a serious illness because it can lead to rheumatic heart disease.

Rheumatic heart disease can cause permanent heart problems. Some children with rheumatic heart disease may need heart surgery.

Rheumatic fever mainly affects Māori and Pacific children, especially if other family members have had rheumatic fever. If your child has had rheumatic fever, it is very important that they don't get it again. To stop them getting it again, your doctor will give them regular antibiotic injections.

The following series of videos from the Ministry of Health give tips to prevent rheumatic fever by keeping your home warm and dry, and preventing the spread of germs. There are nine short videos and they will automatically play in sequence.

There are also English and Te Reo, English and Tongan, and English and Samoan versions of the videos.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed July 2016.

See also:

Financial support for health costs for information about support for families who have a child with a serious disability.

Keeping your home warm and dry for information about subsidies for insulation and heating for families with chronic health conditions.

Page reference: 74248

Review key: HIRHF-74248