ABC Medical Center > Rheumatic fever

What is Rheumatic fever?

21:54 - 4 May , 2021


It is an inflammatory condition caused by Streptococcus pyogenes or group A streptococcus bacterial infection in the throat not treated properly, which can cause serious cardiovascular, joint, brain, and skin damage.

Although it can occur at any age, it usually has a higher incidence in infants between the ages of four and 12, in whom it can cause heart failure and other complications.

Throat infections caused by Streptococcus pyogenes cause pharyngitis and scarlet fever, triggering rheumatic fever, which causes an autoimmune reaction in the body, causing the immune system to attack its organs and tissues, especially the heart and nervous system.

If your child is diagnosed with a strep infection early and treated with the appropriate antibiotic, it is unlikely that they will develop rheumatic fever. On the contrary, if you are not treated or prescribed the right antibiotic, you will surely develop this condition.

Signs and symptoms Rheumatic fever

The symptoms and their intensity depend on the particular case, but symptoms usually begin to appear 15 or 20 days after the infection, the most common being: 

  • Heart murmur.
  • Tiredness.
  • Weakness.
  • High fever.
  • Severe joint pain.
  • Joint inflammation.
  • Facial spasms and involuntary movements in the limbs.
  • Unexplained emotional outbursts and bizarre behavior.
  • Cutaneous and subcutaneous rashes.
  • Chest pain.

To prevent your child from developing rheumatic fever, see your doctor at the first signs of strep infection.

The inflammatory process typical of rheumatic fever can last from two or three weeks to five or six months, although it can cause permanent damage to the heart muscle, which can manifest immediately or many years later, the most frequent being: 

  • Mitral valve injuries.
  • Atrial fibrillation.
  • Heart failure.

Diagnosis and treatment Rheumatic fever

Once your doctor analyzes your child’s symptoms and clinical history, they will perform a physical examination, a cardiac ultrasound, and an electrocardiogram to determine if it is rheumatic fever, since there is no specific diagnostic test for this condition.

The treatment plan focuses on eliminating group A streptococcus, controlling symptoms, and preventing the condition from reappearing, through the following medications:

  • Antibiotics: once the complete treatment is finished, it is necessary to maintain periodic preventive cycles for at least five years.
  • Anti-inflammatories.

If necessary:

  • Corticosteroids.
  • Anticonvulsants.

At ABC Medical Center’s Internal Medicine Department, we offer health care services with the highest quality and safety, from the prevention, diagnosis, timely treatment, and monitoring of infectious, respiratory, endocrinological, dermatological, rheumatic, nephrological, gastrointestinal, and hematological pathologies of both chronic-degenerative diseases and acute conditions, through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary model.


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  • Camino BJE, Vásquez PMH, Cando GAE, et al. Aspectos relevantes para la prevención primaria, secundaria y terciaria de la fiebre reumática. Rev Cub de Reu. 2017;19(2):73-78.
  • Santos HJE, Mercado UMC, Luévanos VA, et al. Fiebre reumática aguda y artritis séptica por Streptococcus pyogenes simultáneas en un preescolar. Rev Latin Infect Pediatr. 2017;30(2):80-84.
  • Rivero GJI, Uribe CJC. Fiebre reumática. Rev Med Cos Cen. 2016;73(618):119-124.

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