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Rheumatic fever reporting systems need improvement, audit suggests

New research shows the rates of acute rheumatic fever in Northland actually differ to official government records - and an expert says that means Northland needs more care.

About 93 per cent of all cases in Northland are Māori children, and Professor Michael Baker of Otago University says we need to make sure we're getting the data right.

Speaking this morning to TVNZ 1's Breakfast programme, Mr Baker said the audit of government data shows the need for a consistent way of tracking the disease.

About 300-350 new cases are diagnosed each year, about 150-200 cases are admitted to hospital each year - some of those patients will suffer heart valve damage.

Mr Baker said a national reporting system for the disease would be more efficient because, even if families moved to a new region, their records would follow them and they could be followed up for treatment.

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Otago University’s Professor Michael Baker says the region is a hot spot, with Māori children especially high in the numbers. Source: Breakfast