Acute rheumatic fever is a complication of a bacterial throat infection. Episodes of acute rheumatic fever can cause permanent damage to the heart valves, which is known as rheumatic heart disease. People with acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease need long-term treatment to prevent repeat episodes of acute rheumatic fever that may cause further damage to the heart.
Acute rheumatic fever is an illness that can happen after an infection with a germ called group A Streptococcus.
Group A streptococcus causes sore throats and skin sores.
Acute rheumatic fever is more likely to affect:
The brain causing abnormal body movements or twitches
The body causing fever
The joints causing sore and swollen joints
The skin causing rashes and lumps
The heart causing weakness, shortness of breath, tiredness, chest pain or a rapid heart beat
Visit your doctor or clinic:
Acute rheumatic fever can cause damage to the heart valves. This is called rheumatic heart disease or RHD.
This damage to the heart valves makes it hard for your heart to work properly.
Having acute rheumatic fever more than once can make your heart damage worse.
Your doctor might:
People who have acute rheumatic fever or rheumatic heart disease need antibiotic injections every 4 weeks to prevent new attacks.
You should also:
People with severe rheumatic heart disease may require surgery.
More information about RHD is available in the "Things you need to know" booklet available on the Rheumatic Heart Disease Australia website.
You can also talk with your doctor, nurse, Aboriginal health worker, or call your local public health unit on 1300 066 055.