Sore throats matter! Get a throat swab

Published: Thu 29 Aug 2013 11:59 AM
Tuesday 27 August 2013
Sore throats matter! Get a throat swab
Parents and caregivers are reminded ‘Sore Throats Matter!’ as health organisations visit schools to prevent and treat Group A Streptococcal.
Turanga Health is one of three health organisations using schools as a setting to provide sore throat swabbing and antibiotic treatment to those that require it.
Rural health nurse Michelle Hunter was at Matawai School on Monday [26 Aug] where five children with a sore throat received education around sore throats and what to do about them, and a throat swab.
Children and young people are the most likely to get rheumatic fever. It occurs after a ‘strep throat’ – a throat infection caused by a Group A Streptococcus (GAS) bacteria, says Mrs Hunter.
“Most strep throat gets better and don’t lead to rheumatic fever. However, in a small number of people an untreated strep throat develops into rheumatic fever, where their heart, joints, brain and skin become inflamed and swollen.”
While the symptoms of rheumatic fever may disappear on their own, the inflammation can cause rheumatic heart disease, where there is scarring of the heart valves. People with rheumatic heart disease may need heart valve replacement surgery, and it can cause premature death.
The rheumatic fever Prevention Programme is a triple partnership between Turanga Health, Ngati Porou Hauora and Tairawhiti District Health. The organisations have been jointly contracted by the Ministry of Health to provide rheumatic fever and sore throat education as well as sore throat swabbing services in an effort to reduce the rate of acute rheumatic fever in Tairāwhiti.
The school-based sore throat swabbing service is provided free of charge in a culturally and socially appropriate manner for children who say they have a sore throat, and where consent has been obtained from the caregiver. Each school involved in the sore throat swab programme will let parents and caregivers know when the nurses and or kaiāwhina will be visiting.
Turanga Health will also be visiting Patutahi, Muriwai, Manutuke, and Whatatutu School, and Te Karaka Area School. Ngati Porou Houora Rural Health teams will be supporting schools on the East Coast; and the Well Child Team (Public Health nurses) from Tairawhiti District Health will be visiting city schools.
However, visits to schools are periodic, and parents and caregivers are reminded that if your child has a sore throat and especially if your family is Māori or Pacific, you need to take them to a doctor, nurse or community worker and get a throat swab.
“Sore throats matter!” says Mrs Hunter. “You may be given antibiotics. Make sure that the child takes all the medicines and completes the course.”
In this district last year the rheumatic fever programme saw all children between the ages of five and 14 years attending deciles 1, 2 and some 3 schools (and Alternative Education centres) offered a throat swab.
As a result of last year’s sore throat swabbing programme Turanga Health arranged for around 30 homes to be insulated. Insulating homes reduces health risks caused by cold, damp housing such as respiratory illnesses and serious diseases like rheumatic fever.

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