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Rheumatic Heart Disease Australia

What is Acute Rheumatic Fever?

Acute rheumatic fever is an illness caused by an autoimmune response to a bacterial infection with group A streptococcus, commonly called the strep bacteria.

What is Rheumatic Heart Disease?

Rheumatic heart disease is chronic damage to the valves in the heart caused by repeated cases of acute rheumatic fever. This can be prevented.

How is it Prevented?

The prevention of rheumatic heart disease can be implemented at different stages. This includes Primordial, Primary, Secondary and Tertiary prevention.

How is it Diagnosed & Treated?

There is currently no single test to diagnose acute rheumatic fever. Diagnosis is a doctor’s decision based on clinical assessment of signs and symptoms.

For Individuals & Families

Look for symptoms in children


Look out for children

Children aged between 5 and 14 are most likely to get rheumatic fever


Get regular check-ups

Stay up to date with check-ups at your local health clinic and with the dentist.


Don’t ignore a sore throat

Go to the clinic. Treating a sore throat stops the strep germ and can prevent ARF


Keep sores clean and covered

Keep sores clean and covered to stop strep and other germs entering the body


Wash hands and face often

Washing your hands and face will wash away the strep and other germs

Symptoms to look out for

Subcutaneous nodules

Round, firm and painless lumps around joints

Skin sores

Skin sores can let the strep germ into the body

Difficulty walking

This can indicate Sydenham’s Chorea

Sore or swollen joints

Including knees, ankles, elbows and wrists

Mary's Story

My name is Aunty Mary.  My nephew Michael is 10 years old.  Last year he got sick with rheumatic heart disease.  I want to tell you a story about rheumatic heart disease, and how this has affected my family. I want everybody to know my family’s story, so we can stop our kids getting sick hearts, and stop rheumatic heart disease in our people... Read on

Patrick Wasiu, RHD Advocate

Patrick Wasiu

Patrick was kind enough to open up and talk to us about the difficulties he faced because of RHD and how, through this adversity....Read on

What if I'm pregnant?

Rheumatic heart disease is up to twice as common in women, and this is women of child bearing years. There is a 30-50% increased cardiac workload in normal pregnancy..... Read On

For Health Professionals & Researchers

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Guidelines & Diagnosis Calculator

ARF RHD Guideline

E-learning & Discussion Forum


The END RHD CRE is the first time that any country has had an opportunity to build a comprehensive, evidence based strategy for ending rheumatic...


The Global Atlas of Rheumatic Heart Disease provides a new way to view the global distribution of RHD burden & as well as programs and...

Burden of the Disease

Acute rheumatic fever remains the most common cause of acquired heart disease in children around the world . Rates of acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities of Northern and Central Australia are some of the highest in the world this many more words will make it even...Read on

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8 hours 52 min

Community driven change. On Track Watch, an innovative community-driven approach to control of ARF in Arnhem Land.…

16 hours 45 min

Jacob no longer fights his BPG injections after watching the ARF health message in his own Warlpiri language.…

1 day 17 hours

Talented new staff arrive at RHDAustralia. Please join us in welcoming Susanne Munkara and Pauline Barnes…

3 days 16 hours

RHD Control Programs

A coordinated control program is the most effective approach in improving adherence to secondary prophylaxis of ARF...Read on

Important health messages in-language

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In-language health messages speak to patients

After watching the acute rheumatic fever (ARF) ‘Important Health Message’ in his own language, Warlpiri, Jacob (aged 10), no longer fights... Read on

Forgotten not gone event photo

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Forgotten but not gone: ‘Why does a third world disease still exist in Australia?’

‘Why does a third world disease still exist in Australia?’ was the question asked at our Q&A panel event held at Parliament House,... Read on

Workshop participants get hands on experience

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Social solutions and clinical knowledge keys to prevention

The 2016 Northern Territory Rheumatic Heart Disease Education Workshop, held in Darwin on the 20th and 21st October, was an opportunity to... Read on

New staff join RHDAustralia

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Welcoming new staff

RHDAustralia is very excited to be able to introduce two new staff members to our team. Please extend a warm welcome to our newest members... Read on

Dr Thilini Basnayake at rheumatic heart disease workshop

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The NT experience: Doctor speaks out about the importance of RHD workshop and awareness raising events

Dr Thilini Basnayake was one of many local doctors who attended the 2016 Northern Territory Rheumatic Heart Disease Education Workshop, on... Read on

Data Collection System

The data collection system is a central repository for the collection and reporting of Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF) and Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) data...