Acute rheumatic fever (ARF) is an illness caused by a reaction to a bacterial infection with group A streptococcus (GAS). It causes an acute, generalised inflammatory response and an illness that targets specific parts of the body, including the heart, joints, brain and skin. Individuals with ARF are often unwell, have significant joint pain and require hospitalisation. Despite the dramatic nature of the acute episode, ARF typically leaves no lasting damage to the brain, joints or skin, but can cause persisting heart damage, termed 'rheumatic heart disease' (RHD).
Disseminating evidence based best practice guidelines
In partnership with the National Heart Foundation of Australia and the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand RHDAustralia lead a review of the national guidelines (published 2006) based on new evidence. The Australian guideline for the prevention, diagnosis and management of acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease (2nd RHDAustralia aims to reduce death and disability from acute rheumatic fever (ARF)/rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by:
RHD control programs have been established in the Northern Territory, Queensland, and Western Australia. Each has its own priorities and unique characteristics in terms of burden of disease, geography and service provision. RHDAustralia supports these programs by providing technical assistance and promoting best practice.
Development of an ARF/RHD dataset and data collection system in a partnership with the RHD programs will help RHD programs measure the quality of local health service delivery and provide data on ARF and RHD across participating jurisdictions.
RHDAustralia liaises with the Commonwealth, jurisdictional representatives and programs, service providers and relevant experts to achieve its tasks and ensure all jurisdictions have access and benefit from its activities increasing community awareness.