True burden of rheumatic fever in NZ currently underestimated, new research reveals

Dr Susan Jack

The true burden of rheumatic fever in New Zealand may be underestimated because serology cut-off guidelines are too high resulting in undercounting about 16 cases annually, new collaborative research has found.

The joint study by researchers from the University of Otago, ESR, University of Auckland and the Menzies School of Health Research, Australia, shows if New Zealand used Australian criteria for verifying streptococcal infection, the number of definite and probable rheumatic fever cases would increase by about 18 per cent in New Zealand – representing about 16 extra cases annually.

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