Acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease in Fiji: prospective surveillance, 2005-2007

Andrew C Steer, Joseph Kado, Adam W J Jenney, Michael Batzloff, Lepani Waqatakirewa, E Kim Mulholland, Jonathan R Carapetis
Medical Journal of Australia 2009 February 2, 190 (3): 133-5

OBJECTIVES: To determine the incidence and clinical features of acute rheumatic fever (ARF) in Fiji, and the clinical features of patients presenting to hospital in Fiji with rheumatic heart disease (RHD).

DESIGN AND SETTING: A prospective surveillance study at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva over a 23-month period from December 2005 to November 2007.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Incidence of ARF; clinical features of ARF and RHD.

RESULTS: The average annualised incidence of definite cases of ARF in children aged 5-15 years was 15.2 per 100,000 (95% CI, 9.0-22.6). The clinical features of ARF were similar to those in classic descriptions. Carditis was very common, occurring in 79% of cases. There were 103 admissions for RHD in which detailed information was collected, with the most common reason for admission being cardiac failure (51%). The median age at admission with RHD was 26.8 years, and there were 10 deaths of patients with RHD (case fatality rate, 9.7%).

CONCLUSIONS: Although apparently declining in incidence since the middle of the 20th century, ARF remains a significant health problem in Fiji. RHD affects young people, leading to premature morbidity and mortality. There is an urgent need for effective control of ARF and RHD in Fiji.

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