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Definition of Rheumatic fever

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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.

Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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