The diagnosis of rheumatic fever can be made when 2 major criteria, or 1 major criterion plus 2 minor criteria, are present as well as evidence of previous streptococcal infection. The are known as revised Jones criteria.
In a patient with previous rheumatic heart disease, a recurrent episode can be diagnosed when 2 major criteria, or 1 major criterion plus 2 minor criteria, or 3 minor criteria, are present as well as evidence of previous streptococcal infection.
– Polyarthritis: asymmetrical, migrating inflammation of the large joints, usually knees or ankles
– Carditis: congestive heart failure with shortness of breath and resting tachycardia, pericarditis, new heart murmur, excluding evidence of valvulitis on echo
– Subcutaneous nodules: small, round, painless, firm nodules over elbows, wrists, knees, ankles
– Erythema marginatum: circular or serpinginous bright pink macules or papules on the trunk; it usually spares the face and is made worse by heat
– Sydenham’s chorea (St. Vitus’ dance): jerky, uncoordinated, rapid movements, more commonly affecting the tongue, hand, feet and face; they can be unilateral and disappear when patient is asleep
If present, chorea does not require other manifestations or evidence of preceding GAS infection, provided other causes of chorea are excluded.
– Fever > 38°C
– Polyarthralgia or monoarthritis and not meeting major criteria features
– ESR ≥ 30 mmHg OR C reactive protein ≥ 30 mg/L
– Prolonged PR interval and carditis not diagnosed
Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) Australia have recently published the 2nd edition of diagnostic and management guidelines for acute rheumatic fever.
The new guidelines include slightly different diagnostic criteria for high risk populations:
Differences in major criteria
– Carditis: congestive heart failure with shortness of breath and resting tachycardia, pericarditis or a new heart murmur, INCLUDING evidence of valvulitis on echo
– Arthritis: including monoarthritis or polyarthralgia
Differences in minor criteria
High-risk populations are considered:
– those living in communities with high rates of acute rheumatic fever or rheumatic heart disease
– Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders living in rural or remote settings
Potentially high risk (data not available) – Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders living in urban settings, Maoris and Pacific Islanders, immigrants from developing countries