10 Feb 2013

Rheumatic fever joint effort hailed

11:49 am on 10 February 2013

Public Health Professor Michael Baker of Otago University says it's good that New Zealand and Australia are working together to combat rheumatic fever.

The two governments will put $3 million towards finding a vaccine for the disease over the next two years.

Rheumatic fever may lead to long term heart damage, known as rheumatic heart disease, which kills about 150 people in New Zealand each year.

Professor Baker said New Zealand and Australia are among the only developed countries which still have a problem with the disease.

He says it mainly affects indigenous people like Maori, Pacific Islanders and Aborigines, aged between three - 20 years.

The fund will help chose which of three potential vaccines should go to clinical trial.