It starts with Strep A and ends with a sick heart.
These are the signs that Strep A germs are making trouble. If we can stop Strep A from getting into the body, we can block RHD.
What is Strep A?
Strep A (short for “Streptococcus Group A”) is a type of germ in our environment. Strep A germs can enter the body through the throat, or through cuts, scrapes, insect bites, or scabies sores, leading to infections in the throat and on the skin.
Strep A infections spread from person to person through contact with skin sores, or when a person with a sore throat talks, sneezes or coughs. If a Strep A infection is not treated quickly, it can lead to acute rheumatic fever.
What is Acute Rheumatic Fever?
Acute rheumatic fever (or ARF) is an illness that most commonly occurs in young people aged 5 to 14 years of age.
ARF affects the body by causing a fever, and causing pain and swelling in the knees, ankles, wrists and elbows, jerky movements, skin rash, and lumps under the skin.
ARF can also cause swelling of the valves and muscles of the heart. If left untreated ARF can lead to rheumatic heart disease.
What is Rheumatic Heart Disease?
Rheumatic heart disease (or RHD) is a serious heart problem that involves damage to one or more of the four small valves in the heart after getting ARF.
The valves can be loose or stiff so that they do not close properly, or they can be thick and scarred so that they do not open properly. In RHD, blood flow through the heart does not work like it should, and the heart often has to work harder to pump the blood.
If you think you or a family member may have ARF or RHD, seek immediate medical attention for proper treatment.
How can we stop RHD?
The best way to stop RHD is to block Strep A germs from entering the body through skin sores and sore throats.
We can block Strep A germs by keeping our skin clean and healthy, treating skin infections, washing our hands, bodies, clothes and bedding.
We can block Strep A germs spreading from person to person by keeping skin sores covered, and by keeping people with sore throats away from other people while they are sick.
If we see someone with a sore throat or skin sores, take them to the clinic quickly and get it treated right.
Let’s end Rheumatic Heart Disease
Together we can protect young people’s hearts
For more information, ask your doctor, nurse or health worker today