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The streptococcus pyogenes bacteria which can lead to rheumatic fever

It's been called a disease that has no place in Godzone: A third world disease that's now rare in most developed countries.

About 140 New Zealanders still die every year of the heart damage caused by the disease.

But whereas rheumatic fever used to afflict Maori and European alike, these days the young patients - almost without exception - are Maori and Pacific Island children and new technology is unmasking cases no-one knew about - till now.

Lois Williams has been investigating the problem of rheumatic fever, and the efforts to treat and prevent it in Northland.

Picture: The streptococcus pyogenes bacteria which can lead to rheumatic fever