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

An untreated sore throat ('strep throat') can lead to rheumatic fever. By taking sore throats seriously, we can help prevent life long illness and suffering for our tamariki.

Sore throats

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. 

Get a sore throat checked right away. Don't ignore it.

A sore throat can also be a symptom of COVID-19.  Call Healthline on 0800 611 116, or your doctor or nurse, to arrange to have it checked. 

Read about school based throat swabbing programmes in the Bay of Plenty and Lakes.

Click here to find a pharmacy where you can get sore throats swabbed in the Bay of Plenty.


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

Although these symptoms may disappear, the heart valves may be permanently damaged – this is called Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD).

Rheumatic fever is not uncommon in the Bay of Plenty. Those most at risk of developing rheumatic fever are:

  • children aged between 4-19 years
  • Māori and Pacific
  • people who share a house with lots of others

For further information on rheumatic fever, click on the links below:

Or contact Lindsay Lowe, Rheumatic Fever Co-ordinator (07) 577 3790 or email lindsay.lowe@bopdhb.govt.nz



Health Promotion Agency resources

The Health Promotion Agency has a wide variety of rheumatic fever campaign material and resources for health workers and families.  

  • Click here to view resources from the 2014 - 2017 campaigns


Ministry of Health resources

  • Click here to view Ministry of Health learning resources


Heart Foundation resources

Rheumatic fever resources are available to order from the resource page of the Heart Foundation website 


5 messages to keep your family healthy

The 5 messages to keep your family healthy resources are aimed at reducing hospitalisations for preventable diseases such as rheumatic fever and skin infections.


Awareness campaigns