Rheumatic Fever



What is Rheumatic Fever and what causes it?

Rheumatic Fever (RF) is a serious illness that affects our community.  It starts with a sore throat that is known as a "strep throat" - a throat infection caused by a bacterial infection or bug called Group A Streptococcus.  If the strep throat is not treated with antibiotics it can cause rheumatic fever. Even a mild sore throat or hoarse throat can be caused by strep.

Rheumatic fever mainly affects Maori and Pacific children (aged four to 19 years) especially if someone in the family has had RF before. 

Rheumatic Fever is a serious inflammatory disease that can cause the heart, joints (elbows, wrists, ankles and knees), brain and the skin to become swollen and painful. Although most of these symptoms go away over time, any damage to the heart is permanent. This is called Rheumatic Heart Disease.

What can be done to prevent RF?

It’s important to get all sore throats checked and swabbed quickly. If it’s a strep throat a 10 day course of antibiotics (tablets or syrup) is needed to prevent rheumatic fever and heart damage.



Sore throat clinic

This is a free nurse led clinic for young people aged 3 to 19 with sore throats, skin infections, head lice, scabies.

It operates out of Western Heights Health Centre, 1 Brookland Road, Western Heights.

The clinic is open 3pm to 5.30pm Monday to Thursday and 3pm to 5pm on Friday.

No appointment is needed, just drop in, and they don’t need to be enrolled at Western Heights Surgery.

Phone number to contact if any questions 022 484 7628



What happens if a person gets RF?

If a person has Rheumatic Fever they need monthly injections of a long acting antibiotic (Bicillin) to prevent a recurrence of RF leading to heart damage.

Rotorua patients can receive their Bicillin injections at regular clinics held every Tuesday and Thursday at the Children’s Health Hub.  It can also be given in Secondary or Intermediate Schools to ensure children get their injections regularly.

In Taupo, the Lakes DHB Public Health Nurses look after the children’s injections, while adults will mostly go to their GP surgeries.


The Team

Tina Lees is the Rheumatic Fever Co-ordinator. She keeps a record of all people in Lakes DHB who have RF and makes sure they receive all the appropriate care and follow up needed at the Hospital and in the community.


Elise Pope is our Rheumatic Fever Nurse. Along with Tina she will meet new patients and their whanau when they come to hospital to support them and ensure referrals and supports are in place and no-one falls through the gaps.  Elise also provides the Bicillin injection for Rotorua patients.


Kim Marsters provides admin support to the team including contacting people to remind them of their Clinic appointments.


The team works closely with Cardiologist Peace Tamuno and Paediatrician Sarka Davidkova to support and coordinate patient care.


Healthy Homes

Living in a warm, dry home also helps to stop strep throats being passed on between family members.

Healthy Homes is a collaborative initiative between Western Heights Health Centre and Lakes District Health Board. The service support Whanau in making their homes warm and dry to help keep families well. Once referred to the service a housing assessment is completed and a plan is made to support the family.


Sustainability Options

Is a charitable organisation involved in social and environmental sustainability. Their core business is to visit homes & communities, providing free 'sustainable living advice'.


For useful information

Ministry of Health website

Heart Foundation website

Toi Te Ora website

Healthy Homes website

Sustainability Options website


General queries   rheumatic.fever@lakesdhb.govt.nz


RF Coordinator     tina.lees@lakesdhb.govt.nz

                                Ph: 07 348 1199 ext 7805

                                Mobile 027 5716591


RF Nurse                elise.pope@lakesdhb.govt.nz

                                Ph: 07 348 1199 ext 8852

                                Mobile 021 4066731


Admin support     kim.marsters@lakesdhb.govt.nz

                                Ph: 07 348 1199 ext 8985


Healthline Freephone:          0800 611 116

In an emergency call 111 for an ambulance

17/09/2020 1:12 p.m.
Sue Wilkie