Rheumatic Fever (cont.)

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How common is rheumatic fever?

In the United States and other developed nations, rheumatic fever is exceedingly rare today, though there have been sporadic outbreaks. This is due to the availability of antibiotics and preventive services. In other parts of the world, it remains a common disease and is the leading cause of cardiovascular death in individuals under the age of 50.

Where can one find additional information about rheumatic fever?



  • Rheumatic fever is an autoimmune disease which may develop after strep throat infection.
  • The Jones criteria are used to help physicians make the clinical diagnosis of rheumatic fever.
  • Rheumatic fever does not affect all individuals who have had a strep throat infection.
  • Rheumatic fever affects the joints, heart, skin, and nervous system.
  • Antibiotics are used to treat the strep throat infection and may prevent development of rheumatic fever.
  • Rheumatic fever may cause long-term damage to the heart and its valves.

Last Editorial Review: 7/31/2009

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