Rheumatic fever is a serious but preventable illness. Rheumatic fever can start with a sore throat caused by a ‘strep throat’ - a bacterial infection called Group A Streptococcus (GAS). A free throat swab detects strep throats, and a free ten day course of antibiotics (tablets or syrup) kills the strep bacteria and prevents rheumatic fever.
Sore throats can lead to rheumatic fever. We have over 180 free sore throat services in Waikato DHB. All sore throats in Māori and Pacific children and young people (aged 4–19 years) living in the Waikato need to be checked.
Even a mild sore throat or a hoarse throat can be caused by strep and can go on to cause rheumatic fever if left untreated. Get all sore throats seen and swabbed quickly to prevent rheumatic fever and heart damage.
Usually, sore throats get better on their own. But if strep throat is left untreated, in some people an autoimmune response (where the body attacks its own tissues) is caused and the heart, joints (ankles, wrists, knees, elbows), brain and skin can become inflamed and swollen. If a child or young person gets rheumatic fever they can have really painful joints and can become very unwell, causing them to have severe tiredness, breathlessness and low energy.
In some cases it can lead to serious heart problems causing rheumatic heart disease, where the heart valves become damaged and heart operations are needed.
Living in a warm, dry home also helps to stop strep throats being passed on between family members.
The Whare Ora Programme is a FREE initiative that supports whānau to create healthier homes that are warmer, drier, and safe.
Where can I get a sore throat checked?
- Drop in services are provided by general practices, pathlabs, after-hours clinics, most pharmacies, some secondary school nurses and community providers in the Waikato.
- This service is available and free to all 4-19 year old Māori and Pacific children across the Waikato District presenting with a sore throat.
- This service is available and free to all 4-19 year olds living in high deprivation (quintile 5) areas presenting with a sore throat.