Rheumatic fever is a delayed immune response that can occur after
certain group A streptococcal
infections. It causes damage to certain organs, particularly the
What is going on in the body?
and scarlet fever are
two types of infections that precede rheumatic fever. If a person is not
treated effectively with antibiotics for these infections, he or she may have
an immune response. The effects of this response can be seen in the heart,
joints, brain, and skin. The most serious effect of rheumatic fever is a heart
valve defect known as mitral valve
prolapse. Rheumatic fever was more common before antibiotics were
available to treat infections.
What are the causes and risks of the disease?
Rheumatic fever is an immune response to an infection with
group A streptococcus. The
same bacteria causes strep
throat and scarlet
fever. While streptococcal skin infections are fairly common, they
have not been linked to rheumatic fever.
Rheumatic fever is most prevalent in school-age children who are 5
to 15 years old. It is seen most often in the cold winter months when strep
throat is also most common. Rheumatic fever may also occur in adults. It is
seen with equal frequency in men and women. However, women with rheumatic fever
are more likely to develop Sydenham
chorea and mitral valve