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Disease WAtch

New national guideline for acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease

Health providers are being alerted to a new national guideline for the prevention, diagnosis and management of acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and rheumatic heart disease (RHD).

The new guideline provides additional information, clarifies common questions and broadens the diagnostic criteria for probable cases of ARF in high-risk groups.

ARF is an inflammatory disease caused by an immunological reaction that follows a group A streptococcal infection. The inflammatory response can affect the joints, heart, brain and skin. ARF, particularly where there are repeated episodes, can lead to damaged heart valves, known as RHD.

ARF is serious but preventable and in Australia is almost exclusive to Aboriginal people living in remote areas of central and northern Australia.

ARF has been notifiable in Western Australia since 2007. The WA ARF Notification Form and other information is available at:

The new guideline follows a comprehensive review and update of the original 2006 guideline by RHDAustralia, an initiative of the Menzies School of Health Research. The original guideline was produced by the Heart Foundation and Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand.

Copies of the new guideline, and the following quick reference guides, can be downloaded from the RHDAustralia website (external site).

  • Primary prevention of ARF
  • Diagnosis of ARF
  • Management of ARF
  • Secondary prevention of ARF
  • Management of RHD
  • RHD in pregnancy
  • RHD control programs.

Applications for iphone, Android and iPad will be available soon.
For further information, including printed copies of the guideline, contact the WA Rheumatic Heart Disease Register & Control Program:

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