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Rheumatic Heart Disease: "Stop the progression of strep throat"

American Samoa Dept. of Health logo

Pago Pago, AMERICA SAMOA — The Department of Health (DOH) spearheaded Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) relief screenings at local schools earlier this month.

The BYU RHD Relief Team visited the territory to provide the screenings at Pava'ia'i Elementary School, on Thursday May 2nd; and Tafuna Elementary on Friday, May 3rd.

The screening services were also open to the pubic and offered at the Aua LDS compound.

RHD is a complication of rheumatic fever in which heart valves are damaged. Rheumatic fever is an inflammation that begins with strep throat and can affect other parts of the body, specifically the heart, joints, brain, and skin. Left untreated, is may cause permanent damage to heart valves and progress to RHD. Heart surgery may manage some of the problems and prolong life, but it will not cure RHD.

The best advice for parents and caregivers: "Stop the progression of strep throat". Complaints about a sore throat and discomfort, in conjunction with a fever, need immediate medical attention.

In late 2017, American Samoa knocked New Zealand from the #1 spot of having the highest incidents of RHD in the world, based on criteria set forth by the World Health Organization (WHO). Over the past years, various groups and organizations from off island have been visiting the territory, to conduct screenings and follow-ups — free of charge — for local youngsters.