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Acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease among children--American Samoa, 2011-2012.

Acute rheumatic fever is a nonsuppurative, immune-mediated consequence of group A streptococcal pharyngitis (strep throat). Recurrent or severe acute rheumatic fever can cause permanent cardiac valve damage and rheumatic heart disease, which increases the risk for cardiac conditions (e.g., infective endocarditis, stroke, and congestive heart failure). Antibiotics can prevent acute rheumatic fever if administered no more than 9 days after symptom onset. Long-term benzathine penicillin G (BPG) injections are effective in preventing recurrent acute rheumatic fever attacks and are recommended to be administered every 3-4 weeks for 10 years or until age 21 years to children who receive a diagnosis of acute rheumatic fever. During August 2013, in response to anecdotal reports of increasing rates of acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease, CDC collaborated with the American Samoa Department of Health and the Lyndon B. Johnson Tropical Medical Center (the only hospital in American Samoa) to quantify the number of cases of pediatric acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease in American Samoa and to assess the potential roles of missed pharyngitis diagnosis, lack of timely prophylaxis prescription, and compliance with prescribed BPG prophylaxis. Using data from medical records, acute rheumatic fever incidence was calculated as 1.1 and 1.5 cases per 1,000 children aged ≤18 years in 2011 and 2012, respectively; 49% of those with acute rheumatic fever subsequently received a diagnosis of rheumatic heart disease. Noncompliance with recommended prophylaxis with BPG after physician-diagnosed acute rheumatic fever was noted for 22 (34%) of 65 patients. Rheumatic heart disease point prevalence was 3.2 cases per 1,000 children in August 2013. Establishment of a coordinated acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease control program in American Samoa, likely would improve diagnosis, treatment, and patient compliance with BPG prophylaxis.

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