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Free sore throat checks for children most at risk of getting rheumatic fever available at a number of local pharmacies and GP clinics.

What is rheumatic fever? 

Rheumatic fever is a serious yet preventable disease which causes permanent heart damage. In many cases, it starts with a sore throat that is known as ‘strep throat’ – a throat infection caused by a bacteria called Group A Streptococcus.

Most strep throats get better so long as the patient completes all the medication (antibiodics) they have been prescribed. An untreated strep throat can develop into rheumatic fever, where the heart, joints, brain and skin become inflamed and swollen.

Who can get a free sore throat check?

These free services are available to people at High Risk of developing rheumatic fever. This High-Risk group are:

  • Māori and Pacific children, youth and young adults, aged 4 to 19 years who normally live the Hutt Valley and are enrolled in a general practice in the Hutt Valley
  • Anyone else aged 4 to 19 years with a family history of rheumatic fever who is living in the Hutt Valley
  • Low socioeconomic areas of the Hutt Valley or are living in crowded circumstances

Otherwise you can go to your normal doctor or nurse to get a sore throat checked but you may have to pay a fee. You should phone your usual doctor and check.

What does the service provide?

A nurse or pharmacist will check your child’s sore throat, take their temperature and note other symptoms like a cough or runny nose.

Your child will be offered antibiotic treatment if their symptoms indicate a strep throat infection rather than a cold. Children/young adults with a sore throat caused by a cold usually have a cough, hoarseness, red eyes, and runny nose (usually not seen with strep throat). For this reason these children/young adults will not be offered antibiotic treatment.

Where are the free sore throat clinics?

View list of free local clinics here.

For more information about the service contact:

Te Awakairangi Health Network


Telephone: 04 566 5320

For more information about rheumatic fever, go to the Ministry of Health website



Help spread awareness about Rheumatic Fever, please email us here, if you would like the video or image files for the below resources.