Interventions for the control of rheumatic heart disease

Years funded:
2017 - 2020

Rheumatic heart disease affects over 33 million people worldwide, predominantly in resource-poor tropical countries, leading to over 300,000 premature deaths per year. Rheumatic heart disease is a major health problem in indigenous communities in Australia. Rheumatic heart disease is a chronic disease of the heart valves that begins in childhood with infection by the bacteria, group A streptococcus. In indigenous Australian communities and in tropical areas the most common infection with the group A streptococcus is skin infection associated with scabies, an infestation caused by a tiny mite.

Over the next four years I aim to build a world-leading research programme for advancing the prevention of rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease through the investigation of novel public health strategies to prevent and control group A streptococcal infection. I will do this by further developing large-scale research in two linked areas of public health significance:
1) Development of group A streptococcal vaccines, with the specific long-term aim of preventing rheumatic fever globally
2) Investigation of how large-scale population-based interventions to control scabies might affect the burden of group A streptococcal disease especially rheumatic fever.

These two research areas build on evidence generated from my own, internationally recognised work and have the potential to translate into saved lives and reduced morbidity from a disease of global significance.

Researcher Profile

Professor Andrew Steer

Institute: Murdoch Childrens Research Institute
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