23 Sep 2010

Rheumatic fever rife amongst Maori in Bay of Plenty

5:24 pm on 23 September 2010

Rheumatic fever has been found to be rife among Maori families in the Bay of Plenty, in stark contrast to families of European descent.

Research by Toi te Ora, the public health service of the Bay of Plenty and Lakes District Health Boards, reveals children in the Maori community have a one in 39 chance of getting disease.

That compares to one in 10,000 for New Zealand European children.

Paediatrician John Malcolm says the best defence is swabbing sore throats to detect the bugs which cause rheumatic fever, but many doctors do not swab automatically because of poor advice from the Ministry of Health or because they come from countries where it is not a problem.