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Diagnosing Strep Key to Curbing Rheumatic Heart Disease
Date:2/26/2009

biotics."

Symptoms of GAS pharyngitis may include sudden-onset of sore throat, pain when swallowing, and fever above 101 degrees. In children, headache, stomach pain, nausea and vomiting are also possible. The infection can occur with other upper respiratory tract infections, so an accurate throat culture is important for proper diagnosis and treatment.

If the infection progresses to rheumatic fever, the symptoms may include: fever; sore, tender or red swollen joints; pain that travels from one joint to another; heart palpitations; chest pain; shortness of breath; skin rashes; and small but painless bumps under the skin.

Even those who are properly treated with antibiotics after an initial bout of rheumatic fever are not safe. The chances of a recurrence are high if they again develop strep throat, and continuous treatments with penicillin or similar antibiotics are necessary to prevent further recurrences. Otherwise, the fever can worsen rheumatic heart disease or cause it in those who escaped it the first time.

Long-term preventive antibiotic therapy is also necessary for people who develop rheumatic carditis (inflammation of the heart or area around the heart) from the fever.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about GAS pharyngitis.



-- Kevin McKeever



SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Feb. 26, 2009


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