Acute rheumatic fever in adult patients

Medicine (Baltimore). 2022 Jul 1;101(26):e29833. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000029833.


Acute rheumatic fever (ARF) is considered as a disorder of children, and attacks in adults are usually a recurrence of disease acquired in the child's life. Although the incidence of ARF in children has a decreasing trend in developed countries, resurgent and sporadic epidemics still occur in adults. The first attacks of ARF in adult patients without a childhood history can lead to a diagnostic dilemma. A medical record review in adults at least 18 years of age with an arthralgia complaint fulfilling 2015 revised Jones criteria was performed from January 1, 2000 to December 31, 2019. Eleven ARF patients were identified, including 8 with initial attacks (6 females aged 26-42 years, 33.9 ± 5.3) and 3 pre-existing valvular heart disease with recurrent attacks (2 females aged 38-52 years, 45.0 ± 7.0). In addition to febrile pharyngitis and migratory polyarthritis in initial attacks, pericarditis was encountered in 1, valvulitis in 2, prolong PR interval in 3 and skin involvement in 2 patients with erythema marginatum and IgA vasculitis. All responded to antibiotics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs therapy with normalized clinical and laboratory abnormalities, no new-onset carditis, and no recurrent disease during a long-term follow-up (3.8-19.8 years, 12.7 ± 5.4). A sporadic occurrence of adult ARF is observed in southern Taiwan. This disease should be considered by physicians for the differential diagnosis of febrile pharyngitis with arthritis and/or carditis in adults, even in areas with a low incidence of ARF.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arthritis*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Fever
  • Humans
  • Myocarditis*
  • Pharyngitis*
  • Rheumatic Fever* / complications
  • Rheumatic Fever* / diagnosis
  • Rheumatic Fever* / epidemiology