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Wisconsin Department of Health Services

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Rheumatic fever


Rheumatic fever is a rare inflammatory illness that can occur after "strep throat," an infection of the throat and tonsils by the bacterium group A Streptococcus (GAS) or Streptococcus pyogenes. Most strep throat strains do not cause rheumatic fever. This disease is currently very rare in the United States and in other developed nations, but is still common in many developing countries due to lack of treatment for strep throat. Rheumatic fever can almost always be prevented if strep throat is properly treated. Rheumatic fever can affect different parts of the body with varying symptoms, which may include: joint pain and swelling, skin rash, abnormal involuntary movements, and bumps under the skin. It can also permanently damage the heart, leading to rheumatic heart disease.

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General information

Group A streptococcal infections (GAS) CDC   
Streptococcal pharyngitis (Strep throat) fact sheet - Hmong - Spanish

Information for health professionals

Additional resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (CDC)    
CDC Active Bacterial Core surveillance (ABCs) Program           


Wisconsin Local Health Departments - Regional offices - Tribal agencies  

Last Revised: September 17, 2014