Rheumatic fever: An illness that occurs following a streptococcus infection (such as a "strep throat") or scarlet fever and predominantly affects children. Symptoms include fever, pain in the joints, nausea, stomach cramps, and vomiting. Rheumatic fever can cause long-lasting effects in the skin, joints, heart, and brain.
Rheumatic fever may be followed by Sydenham's chorea and by symptoms characteristic of obsessive-compulsive disorder or a tic disorder.
The diagnosis of rheumatic fever is made by history, physical examination, laboratory testing and heart monitoring (EKG).
Treatment is usually by prophylactic antibiotics, as recurrence is common and can cause further damage to body tissues.