The incidence of acute rheumatic fever (ARF) is 8 to 51 per 100,000 people worldwide. It most commonly affects children 5 to 15 years of age after a group A streptococcal infection. Overcrowding and poor socioeconomic conditions are directly proportional to the incidence of ARF. Rheumatic carditis is a manifestation of ARF that may lead to rheumatic heart disease (RHD). Timely treatment of group A streptococcal infection can prevent ARF, and penicillin prophylaxis can prevent recurrence of ARF. Prevention of recurrent ARF is the most effective way to prevent RHD. ARF is diagnosed using the 2015 modified Jones criteria. There is no gold standard laboratory test. Therefore, clinicians need to be aware of the clinical signs and symptoms of ARF to include in their differential diagnosis when seeing such patients. Secondary prophylaxis with benzathine penicillin G has been shown to decrease the incidence of RHD and is key to RHD control. Clinicians need to understand the implications of secondary prophylaxis for ARF. There is also a need to improve ARF diagnosis, to find novel therapies to reduce the incidence of ARF, and to reduce the prevalence of RHD. RHD research is neglected and underfunded. Thus, there is also a need for RHD advocacy and public health awareness to increase research on RHD.
Acute Rheumatic Fever
Drs Lahiri and Sanyahumbi have disclosed no financial relationships relevant to this article. This commentary does not contain a discussion of unapproved/investigative use of a commercial product/device.
Subhrajit Lahiri, Amy Sanyahumbi; Acute Rheumatic Fever. Pediatr Rev May 2021; 42 (5): 221–232. https://doi.org/10.1542/pir.2019-0288
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