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All children’s sore throats should be checked- Drs

Toi Te Ora medical officer of health Dr Jim Miller. Supplied image.

Health officials are advising that all children and young people with a sore throat should be checked urgently because the symptom can be caused by COVID-19 or Strep A.

Strep A can lead to rheumatic fever, which is a serious preventable disease that can cause permanent heart damage, says medical officer of health for Toi Te Ora Dr Jim Miller.

“Unfortunately we continue to receive reports of cases of acute rheumatic fever during this period of national disruption.”

Rheumatic fever often starts with a sore throat.  A few weeks later the child may develop sore or swollen joints, skin rash, fever, stomach pain and jerky movements.  Although these symptoms may disappear, the heart valves may be damaged and this damage may be permanent.  

A child diagnosed with rheumatic fever requires long-term follow up including monthly injections of Penicillin to stop further attacks, he says.

“Fortunately, rheumatic fever is preventable, provided sore throats are treated correctly.  If your child complains of a sore throat call your doctor promptly to arrange for them to be checked.  Sore throats matter.”

Sore throats can also get checked at any COVID-19 Community Based Assessment Centres. 

Being checked for a sore throat is an essential activity; People can travel to do this no matter the COVID-19 alert level. 

“If a ‘strep throat’ is diagnosed, the doctor will usually prescribe a 10 day course of antibiotics,” says Jim.

CBACs are open most days and are free.  For more information on CBAC locations and opening hours visit the website.

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