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Rheumatic fever (RF)
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Rheumatic fever

Diseases & Conditions A-Z

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INFECTIOUS DISEASE

Bacterial

Rheumatic fever is a delayed consequence of an untreated upper respiratory infection with group A streptococci (streptococcal pharyngitis or strep throat). Rheumatic fever can affect many parts of your body - heart, joints, nervous system and skin. Although rheumatic fever can occur at any age, it most frequently occurs in people between the ages of 6 and 15 years. The disease is twice as common in women as it is in men.

Symptoms of rheumatic fever generally appear within 5 weeks after an untreated streptococcal (strep) throat infection. Most cases of strep throat don't lead to rheumatic fever. In fact, even in untreated cases, only about 3 percent of people with strep throat develop rheumatic fever.

Prevention

Researchers are working on a vaccine to prevent strep, but until an effective immunization is developed, the only known way to prevent rheumatic fever is to treat strep throat infections with antibiotics.

Most of the time, a virus is the cause of a sore throat, and viruses don't lead to rheumatic fever. However, a sore throat with fever lasting longer than 24 hours may indicate a strep infection. Only a small percentage of people with untreated strep throat will develop rheumatic fever. Prompt and proper treatment of strep throat with antibiotics can prevent strep throat from progressing to rheumatic fever.

Related Sites:

Rheumatic fever > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
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Last Modified : 03/15/08 02:05 AM