Rheumatic Fever is an inflammatory disease, that affects many of the body's connective tissues, especially those of the heart, joints, brain or skin. This disease can cause long-term damage to the heart muscle or heart valves, especially repeated and untreated episodes. Early diagnosis and treatment of acute rheumatic fever can prevent rheumatic heart disease.
Acute rheumatic fever is a delayed complication of streptococcal disease, a throat infection with group A streptococcus bacteria. Only a small number of people infected with the bacteria will develop acute rheumatic fever, but the risk increases if the infection is not treated, usually with penicillin.
Anyone can get acute rheumatic fever, but it usually occurs in children 5 to 15 years old. The rheumatic heart disease that results can last for life.
Last updated: 21 March, 2011