Sore throats lead to rheumatic fever, which leads to heart damage

Rheumatic fever is a serious but preventable illness. It mainly affects Māori and Pacific children and young people aged 4 to 19, especially if they have other family members who have had rheumatic fever.

Rheumatic fever starts with a kind of sore throat called a strep throat – a throat infection caused by a bacteria called Group A Streptococcus.

If your child has a higher risk of getting rheumatic fever AND has a sore throat,  it could be serious.  Don’t ignore it. Take them to a doctor or nurse straight away to get the sore throat checked.

Children and young people who have the highest risk of getting rheumatic fever are mainly Māori and Pacific aged between 4-19 years, living in some parts of the North Island. 

Check to see if you are living in an area with a high incidence of rheumatic fever. Children and young people with a family history of rheumatic fever are also at higher risk.

All about sore throats

Learn about sore throats

Most sore throats get better on their own, but if strep throat is not treated with antibiotics it can cause rheumatic fever.

If your child has strep throat, they’ll be given oral antibiotics for ten days or a one-off penicillin injection to clear up the infection.  If your child is given oral antibiotics it is important to take them for the full ten days, even if they feel better, to stop the strep throat from turning into rheumatic fever.

Learn more about sore throats →

Find your nearest sore throat clinic

Don't wait. Sore throat clinic checkups are free for children aged 4 to 19.

If you live in North Island areas with high rates of rheumatic fever and your child is Māori or Pacific and aged from 4 to 19, they can get their sore throat checked at a free sore throat clinic. They don't have to be enrolled or need an appointment.

You can call  Healthline on 0800 611 116 to find a clinic near you.

Find your nearest sore throat clinic. →

Get involved

Youth ambassadors spread the word about rheumatic fever at this year's Polyfest

Stopping rheumatic fever is a community effort.