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

 

Research: ‘Ageing Well’ Science Challenge Launched

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce today launched the Ageing Well National Science Challenge, confirming initial funding of $14.6 million. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Govt Resisting Pressure To Pump More Cash Into Solid Energy

Prime Minister John Key says it is “not the government’s preferred option” to make a fresh capital injection into the troubled state-owned coal miner, Solid Energy, but dodged journalists’ questions at his weekly press conference on whether that might prove necessary... More>>

ALSO:

Lagest Ever Privacy Breach Award: NZCU Baywide Accepts “Severe” Censure In Cake Case

NZCU Baywide says that once it was found to have committed a breach of a former staff member’s privacy, it had attempted to resolve the matter... the censure and remedies for its actions taken almost three years ago are “severe” but accepted, and will hopefully draw a line under the matter. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: PayPal Stops Processing Mega Payments; NZX Listing Still On

PayPal has ceased processing payments for Mega, the file storage and encryption firm looking to join the New Zealand stock market via a reverse listing of TRS Investments, amid claims it is not a legitimate cloud storage service. More>>

ALSO:

Housing Policy: Auckland Densification As Popular As Ebola, English Says

Finance Minister Bill English said calls by the Reserve Bank Governor for more densification in Auckland’s housing were “about as popular in parts of Auckland as Ebola” would be. More>>

ALSO:

Crown Accounts: NZ Government Deficit Smaller Than Expected In First Half

The New Zealand government's operating deficit was smaller than expected in the first six months of the financial year, as the consumption and corporate tax take rose ahead of forecast in December, having lagged estimates in previous months. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news