Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


New approaches to combating rheumatic fever in children


Tuesday 5 February 2013

New approaches to combating rheumatic fever in children

Leading international researchers and doctors are meeting at the University of Otago, Wellington this week to identify new approaches to reducing the very high levels of rheumatic fever in New Zealand and Australia.

Rheumatic fever is one of the most serious childhood health issues in New Zealand causing chronic heart disease and fatalities later in life.

Speakers at the Public Health Summer School symposium are reporting on a range of approaches to combat this disease, including the urgent need to improve housing, swabbing and treating strep throat infections, use of probiotics, echocardiography to identify children with undiagnosed rheumatic heart disease, as well as prospects for a vaccine in the future.

“Thirty million people around the world have rheumatic heart disease, and more than 300,000 die from it each year, mainly in developing countries. In New Zealand and Australia, the problem is largely restricted to Māori, Pacific and Aboriginal people,” says keynote speaker Professor Jonathan Carapetis from the Telethon Institute of Child Health Research in Perth.

Rheumatic fever is concentrated in children aged 5-14 years. In New Zealand, rates in Māori children are about 40 per 100,000 and in Pacific children around 80 per 100,000. In Australia rates are as high as 182 per 100,000 in indigenous Australian communities. By contrast rates in the European population are about 1-2 per 100,000 across both countries.

“In many ways, new approaches in New Zealand and Australia are leading the way in global efforts to control rheumatic fever. The eyes of the world are on us,” says Professor Carapetis.

Rheumatic fever has been identified (along with raising immunisation coverage) as the single major health goal for the public sector in New Zealand (see http://www.ssc.govt.nz/bps-supporting-vulnerable-children).

The meeting also congratulated the New Zealand Government on its determination to lower rates of this disease and the investment of significant resources in achieving this goal. The New Zealand Ministry of Health is implementing a $24 million five-year campaign focused on establishing school-based sore throat swabbing services in communities where rheumatic fever rates are high.

The symposium was organised by Professor Michael Baker from the University of Otago, Wellington as part of the annual Public Health Summer School.

“There are still major gaps in our understanding of what causes rheumatic fever and why disease rates are so much higher in indigenous populations. Poverty, household crowding, and poor access to primary healthcare services are likely to play a part in these ethnic differences, but there appear to be other unexplained factors contributing to disease risk,” says Professor Baker.

“Research needs to be an essential part of our prevention programme so we can find out what works, and rigorously test promising new approaches. New Zealand and Australia are well-placed to develop and use novel methods to combat rheumatic fever”.

Around 80 people are attending the symposium on the ‘Science of rheumatic fever surveillance and control’ on Monday 4 February, followed by a meeting on rheumatic fever research on 5 February. Speakers at the symposium include scientists and doctors from the Universities of Otago and Auckland, several district heath boards, Ministry of Health, and the New Zealand Heart Foundation.

Professor Jonathan Carapetis and Professor Michael Baker will be available to interview at the University of Otago, Wellington between 1.00-2.00pm on Tuesday 5 February.
ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Cosmetics & Pollution: Proposal To Ban Microbeads

Cosmetic products containing microbeads will be banned under a proposal announced by the Minister for the Environment today. Marine scientists have been advocating for a ban on the microplastics, which have been found to quickly enter waterways and harm marine life. More>>

ALSO:

NIWA: 2016 New Zealand’s Warmest Year On Record

Annual temperatures were above average (0.51°C to 1.20°C above the annual average) throughout the country, with very few locations observing near average temperatures (within 0.5°C of the annual average) or lower. The year 2016 was the warmest on record for New Zealand, based on NIWA’s seven-station series which begins in 1909. More>>

ALSO:

Farewell 2016: NZ Economy Flies Through 2016's Political Curveballs

Dec. 23 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand's economy batted away some curly political curveballs of 2016 to end the year on a high note, with its twin planks of a booming construction sector and rampant tourism soon to be joined by a resurgent dairy industry. More>>

ALSO:


NZ Economy: More Growth Than Expected In 3rd Qtr

Dec. 22 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand's economy grew at a faster pace than expected in the September quarter as a booming construction sector continued to underpin activity, spilling over into related building services, and was bolstered by tourism and transport ... More>>

  • NZ Govt - Solid growth for NZ despite fragile world economy
  • NZ Council of Trade Unions - Government needs to ensure economy raises living standards
  • KiwiRail Goes Deisel: Cans electric trains on partially electrified North Island trunkline

    Dec. 21 (BusinessDesk) – KiwiRail, the state-owned rail and freight operator, said a small fleet of electric trains on New Zealand’s North Island would be phased out over the next two years and replaced with diesel locomotives. More>>

  • KiwiRail - KiwiRail announces fleet decision on North Island line
  • Greens - Ditching electric trains massive step backwards
  • Labour - Bill English turns ‘Think Big’ into ‘Think Backwards’
  • First Union - Train drivers condemn KiwiRail’s return to “dirty diesel”
  • NZ First - KiwiRail Going Backwards for Xmas
  • NIWA: The Year's Top Science Findings

    Since 1972 NIWA has operated a Clean Air Monitoring Station at Baring Head, near Wellington... In June, Baring Head’s carbon dioxide readings officially passed 400 parts per million (ppm), a level last reached more than three million years ago. More>>

    ALSO:

    Get More From Scoop

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Sci-Tech
    Search Scoop  
     
     
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news