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Rheumatic Fever

What is rheumatic fever?

Rheumatic fever is an illness. It often starts with a sore throat (a streptococcal infection). A few weeks after the ‘strep throat’ your child may develop:

  • Sore or swollen joints (knees, elbows, ankles, or wrists)
  • A skin rash
  • A fever
  • Sore stomach
  • Jerky movements

How can rheumatic fever affect the heart?

If your child has a bad attack of rheumatic fever it may cause permanent damage to their heart valves. This is called rheumatic fever disease. A heart valve acts like a one-way door; it makes sure the blood that is pumped by the heart flows in one direction only. When the heart valve is damaged it can cause breathlessness and tiredness.

What happens when my child is in hospital?

Your child will usually need to stay in hospital for 1 – 2 weeks, but it is sometimes longer if their heart is affected. They will have regular examinations and blood tests to check their condition. If they have rheumatic heart disease your child may need to stay in hospital for longer, may need to have regular penicillin injections and have a special visit to the dentist. Your doctor will speak to you about the care and treatment your child needs while they are in hospital.

This page was last updated at 11:08AM on August 4, 2021.