Fever pre­ven­tion to be tested lo­cally

What is rheumatic fever?

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By JIM CHIPP

A clin­i­cal trial of a prod­uct once re­garded as an al­ter­na­tive rem­edy is about to be­gin in Porirua.

Univer­sity of Otago re­searchers will test a natur­o­pathic pro­bi­otic prod­uct called BLIS on about 2000 chil­dren at Porirua pri­mary schools.

For three terms from midAu­gust, school staff will dis­trib­ute BLIS lozenges each day at the cho­sen schools.

A pilot study of the prod­uct has shown a 90 per cent re­duc­tion in the par­tic­u­lar sore throat in­fec­tions that can lead to rheumatic fever. How­ever, no for­mal ran­dom, dou­ble-blind tri­als have been car­ried out.

Lead re­searcher Pro­fes­sor Ju­lian Crane was cau­tiously op­ti­mistic. He said he was ‘‘ex­cited’’ by the trial and that BLIS could re­duce rheumatic fever-type sore throats.

‘‘If you look at the way it works and the things that have been found in other stud­ies it has great po­ten­tial, but we have to be scep­ti­cal.’’

A more rig­or­ous trial was needed, first to de­ter­mine con­clu­sively whether it worked and, if so, how much was needed.

Rheumatic fever is a com­par­a­tively rare dis­ease in the de­vel­oped world, other than in New Zealand and Aus­tralia, and it has taken a long time for the pro­bi­otic to be se­ri­ously in­ves­ti­gated, Crane said.

‘‘Nor­mally when you have a new drug and are look­ing down the bar­rel of mak­ing mil­lions, there’s a lot of in­cen­tive.’’

The prod­uct could be ef­fec­tive, but Crane was cau­tious.

‘‘The chances of it be­ing as good as that are re­mote,’’ he said.

It would be dif­fi­cult to dis­trib­ute ef­fec­tively and would not be a com­plete, long-term so­lu­tion, but it could of­fer a respite while a more ef­fec­tive one was found.

‘‘As a long-term thing we would want some­thing like a vac­ci­na­tion that would stop the bug.’’

Mana natur­opath Fiona Paulsen was not sur­prised to hear that pro­bi­otics might help pre­vent rheumatic fever, and was de­lighted for­mal tri­als would take place.

‘‘It has been long known that us­ing the right strains of pro­bi­otics can help lots of things,’’ she said. ‘‘Seventy to 80 per cent of your im­mune sys­tem is con­trolled by cells in your gut. If your gut flora is out of bal­ance it won’t work prop­erly.’’

Natur­opaths tried to pro­mote pro­bi­otics, but un­less doc­tors were say­ing the same thing, it was Rheumatic fever is a se­ri­ous ill­ness, which in New Zealand most of­ten af­fects Maori and Pa­cific chil­dren, and young adults, aged be­tween 4 to 19 years.

What are the po­ten­tial con­se­quences?

It can lead to arthri­tis and per­ma­nent heart dam­age.

What is the first sign? dif­fi­cult, she said.

Lit­tle for­mal re­search had taken place be­cause the pro­bi­otic was al­ready avail­able, so could not re­sult in big phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany prof­its.

Pre­ven­tion of rheumatic fever was likely to re­duce de­pen­dence

A par­tic­u­lar kind of sore throat called Group A Strep­to­coc­cal in­fec­tion. What is the pro­bi­otic? A nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring bac­terium which uses a bac­te­ri­ocin-like in­hibitory sub­stance – BLIS – to kill the bac­te­ria caus­ing Group A Strep­to­coc­cal in­fec­tion sore throats. on an­tibi­otics and other drugs, she said.

The schools in­volved in the trial are Bran­don, Can­nons Creek, Corinna, Glen­view, Holy Fam­ily, Maraeroa, Na­tone, Rus­sell, Tairangi, Te Kura Maori o Porirua and Windley.

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