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Merck Manual

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How Do Doctors Diagnose Rheumatic Fever?

How Do Doctors Diagnose Rheumatic Fever?

Doctors diagnose children with rheumatic fever if they have had a streptococcal infection and 2 major criteria or 1 major criterion and 2 minor criteria:

  • Major criteria for rheumatic fever:

    • Inflammation of the heart (carditis)

    • Jerky, uncontrollable movements (Sydenham chorea)

    • Rash (erythema marginatum)

    • Redness, pain, and swelling (arthritis) in several joints

    • Bumps (nodules) under the skin

  • Minor criteria for rheumatic fever:

    • Pain in several joints (without redness or swelling)

    • Elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate or C-reactive protein

    • Fever

    • Abnormal heart rhythms