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Acute Rheumatic Fever

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Acute Rheumatic Fever, Rheumatic Fever, Rheumatic Heart Disease, Erythema Marginatum, Jones Criteria, Modified Jones Criteria

  • Epidemiology
  1. Incidence: 20 million cases/year in developing world
  2. Attack rate: 0.3 to 3% of untreated Streptococcal Pharyngitis cases
  3. Peak age of onset: 6 to 12 years old (rare under age 3 years)
  • Pathophysiology
  1. Follows Streptococcal Pharyngitis by 2-6 weeks (typically 10-28 days)
  2. Autoimmune reaction to Group A Stretococcal Infection
    1. Streptococcal Pharyngitis
    2. Scarlet Fever
    3. Impetigo is NOT associated with Rheumatic Fever
  • Diagnosis
  • Jones Criteria
  1. Diagnostic criteria
    1. Two Major Criteria or
    2. One Major and 2 Minor Criteria
  2. Major Criteria
    1. Mnemonic: Jones
      1. J - Joints (Migratory Arthritis)
      2. O - Shape of Heart (Carditis)
      3. N - Nodules (Subcutaneous)
      4. E - Erythema Marginatum
      5. S - Sydenham's Chorea
    2. Carditis
      1. Present in 50-60% of cases
      2. Endocarditis (mitral valve most commonly affected)
        1. Results in Rheumatic Heart Disease
        2. Manifests as valve disease in 10-20 years after carditis in 50%
        3. Mitral Stenosis is most common outcome
      3. Pericarditis
      4. Myocarditis (rare)
    3. Migratory polyarthritis
      1. Most common symptom (occurs in 49-78% of patients)
      2. Significant response to Aspirin or NSAIDS
      3. Migratory Arthritis
      4. Large joints starting with legs and moving to arms
        1. Knees and ankles
        2. Wrists and elbows
        3. Rarely affects spine
      5. Transient (3 days per joint, and 3 weeks total)
        1. Typical course is <1 week
      6. More severe in teens and young adults
    4. Sydenham's Chorea
      1. Abrupt onset of choreoform movements (purposeless, nonrhythmic, involuntary) only present while awake
      2. Motor weakness
      3. Emotional disturbance (outbursts, Psychosis)
      4. Late finding (may occur up to 8 months after initial infection)
      5. Resolves over 2-3 years
    5. Erythema Marginatum (associated with carditis)
      1. Non-pruritic pink to slightly red rings
      2. Involves trunk and proximal extremities, but spares face
      3. Transiently appears, rapidly advances and disappears over months
    6. Subcutaneous Nodules (associated with carditis)
      1. Small, firm painless Nodules on extensor surfaces (esp. dorsal wrist, elbow, anterior knee)
      2. Develop over bony prominences or over tendons
  3. Minor Criteria
    1. Arthralgias
    2. Fever
    3. Elevated Sedimentation Rate (ESR)
    4. Elevated C-Reactive Protein
    5. Prolonged PR Interval on Electrocardiogram
  4. Supporting criteria
    1. Group A Streptococcal Infection precedes episode
      1. Positive GAS Rapid Antigen test or Throat Culture OR
      2. Anti-streptococcal Antibody level increased
  • Labs
  1. Complete Blood Count
    1. Variable Leukocytosis
  2. Acute phase reactants markedly increased
    1. Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate
    2. C-Reactive Protein
  3. Group A Beta Hemolytic Streptococcus testing
    1. Rapid antigen test with reflex to Throat Culture
    2. ASO Titer
      1. Increased over baseline
  • Course
  1. Onset 10-28 days after Streptococcal Pharyngitis onset
  • Management
  1. Admit for definitive diagnosis and evaluation
  2. Polyarthritis
    1. Aspirin
      1. Adult: 4-8 g/day
      2. Child: 80-100 mg/kg/day
        1. Consider Naproxen instead due to risk of Reye's Syndrome
    2. NSAIDs
      1. Consider if Aspirin cannot be used
  3. Carditis
    1. Corticosteroids as directed by cardiology
    2. Congestive Heart Failure management
  4. Treat Streptococcal Pharyngitis
    1. See Streptococcal Pharyngitis for treatment regimens
  5. Prevention of recurrence
    1. Rheumatic Fever with carditis and residual heart disease (valvcular disease persists on echo or exam)
      1. Benzathine Penicillin G IM monthly for 10 years or until age 40 years (whichever is longer)
    2. Rheumatic Fever with carditis but NO residual heart disease
      1. Benzathine Penicillin G IM monthly for 10 years or until age 21 years (whichever is longer)
    3. Rheumatic Fever without carditis
      1. Benzathine Penicillin G IM monthly for 5 years or until age 21 years (whichever is longer)
    4. References
      1. Gerber (2009) Circulation 119(11): 1541-51 [PubMed]
  • Prevention
  1. Antibiotics for Streptococcal Pharyngitis
  2. Test and treat household contacts