24 Mar 2014

Rheumatic heart disease worries American Samoa

3:55 pm on 24 March 2014

Senators in American Samoa have been told the prevalence of rheumatic heart disease among children in the territory is much higher than in other Pacific nations.

The disease, which is caused by exposure to a bacteria called streptococcus for which one of the symptoms among children is a sore throat, is commonly referred to as strep throat.

Senators heard all about the disease and plans to combat its spread from a group of doctors and officials from the Health department and LBJ Hospital.

Pediatrician Dr Beth Parker says around the Pacific for every 1000 children, 3.5 have the disease, but for American Samoa, the rate is 9.2 for every 1,000 children.

Dr Parker says people can prevent the disease by coming in to get medicine to treat it before anything serious occurs.

"Since I have been here I've seen children die from this disease, I've seen children have strokes from disease."

Pediatrician Dr Beth Parker.