What is rheumatic fever?

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Updated: 1/14/2003 1:29 pm Published: 1/14/2003 1:29 pm

Rheumatic (roo-MAH-tic) fever is a condition that usually affects children between the ages of 5 and 15. It's believed to be caused by an allergic reaction to certain strains of streptococcal (strep-tuh-KOE-kul) bacteria. Children usually contract this disease about a week or two after recovering from a strep virus. Symptoms include aching and painful swelling of the joints, pea-sized nodules under the skin, rash, and fever. Rheumatic fever can permanently damage the heart valves, so if you suspect that your child has it, talk to a health care provider immediately. Treatment usually involves antibiotics, analgesics, or anti-inflammatory medication. Sometimes antibiotic therapy can reduce the chances of future recurrence. Talk to a health care provider if you need more information about rheumatic fever.

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