November 18, 2013
Overcrowding factor in strep epidemic
Overcrowded houses is being pegged as a reason for high levels of rheumatic fever among Maori and Pacific Island communities in South Auckland.
The National Hauora Coalition is running a swabbing programme in 61 schools in the most high risk areas to detect and treat the strep throat that in 3 percent of cases will lead to rheumatic fever.
Clinical director David Jansen says while Maori and Pacific children have one of the highest rates of rheumatic fever in the developed world, the reason is overcrowding rather then genetics.
"We live in bigger families, we live closer together, we sleep closer together. Ultimately overcrowding is one part of the picture in terms of spread of group A strep and therefore the risk of rheumatic fever, a kid with a cough sleeping with a whole bunch of other kids, that kid will spread group A strep. If that kid has group A strep, then you’re spreading it amongst a whole bunch of kids," Dr Jansen says.
National Hauora Coalition is working with Housing New Zealand so that people living in conditions where rheumatic fever is a risk can get priority housing assistance.
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