Persistence of acute rheumatic fever in a tertiary children's hospital

Michael Smith, David Lester-Smith, Yvonne Zurynski, Sarah Noonan, Jonathan Carapetis, Elizabeth J Elliot

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Aim:  To identify and describe all children admitted with acute rheumatic fever (ARF) to a tertiary paediatric hospital in Sydney over a 9‐year period and to describe their demographic and clinical characteristics, management and short‐term outcomes. Delays in diagnosis, recurrence of ARF and use of secondary prophylaxis were also documented.

    Methods:  Retrospective review of medical records for children aged <15 years admitted to the Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, with ARF (International Classification of Diseases (ICD)‐10 classification I0.0–I09.9) during 2000–2008. Only cases meeting the National Heart Foundation of Australia diagnostic criteria for ARF were included.

    Results:  Twenty‐six children met the National Heart Foundation of Australia criteria for ARF. The median age was 11.5 years (range 5.8–14.6) and 15 (58%) were male. Ten (38%) identified as Pacific Islander, and 5 (19%) as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI). Most (n= 20, 77%) lived in suburban Sydney, and 69% were classified in the two most disadvantaged quintiles on the Index of Relative Socioeconomic Disadvantage and Advantage. Four (15%) had Sydenham's chorea, and 81% had carditis (mitral and/or aortic regurgitation). Six (23%) children had previous ARF. Antibiotic prophylaxis to prevent recurrent ARF was prescribed in all cases, but 50% received oral penicillin, rather than by intramuscular injection. Barriers to timely diagnosis were identified in 81%, including delayed presentation and delayed referral.

    Conclusion:  Most children presenting to the hospital with ARF lived in disadvantaged areas of Sydney. Pacific Islander and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were over‐represented. Mitigation of RHD requires early identification of ARF and appropriate delivery of secondary prophylaxis.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)198-203
    Number of pages6
    JournalJournal of Paediatrics and Child Health
    Issue number4
    Early online date29 Dec 2010
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011


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