Diagnostic criteria of acute rheumatic fever

Rebecca J. Burke, Christopher Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Acute rheumatic fever is an inflammatory sequela of Group A Streptococcal pharyngitis that affects multiple organ systems. The incidence of acute rheumatic fever has been declining even before the use of antibiotics became widespread, however the disease remains a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in children, particularly in developing countries and has been estimated to affect 19 per 100,000 children worldwide. Acute rheumatic fever is a clinical diagnosis, and therefore subject to the judgment of the clinician. Because of the variable presentation, the Jones criteria were first developed in 1944 to aid clinicians in the diagnosis of acute rheumatic fever. The Jones criteria have been modified throughout the years, most recently in 1992 to aid clinicians in the diagnosis of initial attacks of acute rheumatic fever and to minimize overdiagnosis of the disease. Diagnosis of acute rheumatic fever is based on the presence of documented preceding Group A Streptococcal infection, in addition to the presence of two major manifestations or one major and two minor manifestations of the Jones criteria. Without documentation of antecedent Group A Streptococcal infection, the diagnosis is much less likely except in a few rare scenarios. Carditis, polyarthritis and Sydenham's chorea are the most common major manifestations of acute rheumatic fever. However, despite the predominance of these major manifestations of acute rheumatic fever, there can be significant overlap with other disorders such as Lyme disease, serum sickness, drug reactions, and post-Streptococcal reactive arthritis. This overlap between disease processes has led to continued investigation of the pathophysiology as well as development of new biomarkers and laboratory studies to aid in the diagnosis of acute rheumatic fever and distinction from other disease processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)503-507
Number of pages5
JournalAutoimmunity Reviews
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - Apr 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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