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Difference Between Rheumatic Fever and Scarlet Fever

Rheumatic Fever vs Scarlet Fever

Most of us had a fever ever since we were young. We also had colds, flu, and other common childhood illnesses. This was inevitable because our body was still developing. Two not-so-common diseases that involve symptoms of fever are rheumatic fever and scarlet fever. What can be the difference between both diseases?

Scarlet fever is a fever caused by Group A beta hemolytic Streptococcus bacteria which cause infection, particularly strep throat. This bacteria produces toxins. These toxins cause rashes in the body which are more evident under the arms and in the groin. Their face also becomes reddish while the area around the lips is pale. The treatment for scarlet fever is antibiotics such as penicillin or erythromycin. If not treated, it can cause rheumatic fever and sepsis which should be avoided.

Rheumatic fever, on the other hand, is a complication of scarlet fever particularly the strep throat. It is also caused by a Group A Strep infection. This occurs after a month of having strep throat. The signs of rheumatic fever are arthritis or painful, swollen joints and fever. The usage of antibiotics can prevent rheumatic fever from occurring after a strep infection. If the toxins from the strep throat descend into the heart, it can cause rheumatic heart disease. In the long term, it may damage the heart valves that may cause heart failure. This requires immediate surgery to the valves of the heart. So to prevent this, prevention is better than the cure.

Rheumatic fever affects young people usually from ages 5 and above up to 17 years old. Scarlet fever also affect the young people, but babies should be monitored as well if they are diagnosed with it.
Scarlet fever is diagnosed through blood tests. The results show leukocytosis, neutrophilia, high ESR, and C-Reactive protein. It also shows elevated anti-streptolysin O titer. Rheumatic fever is diagnosed through Jones Criteria made by Dr. Duckett Jones in 1944. This was then revised by the American Heart Association with the help of other groups. The Jones Criteria is made up of major and minor criteria. Rheumatic fever is confirmed with the presence of one major criterion plus two minor criteria and presence of infection, or two major criteria plus two minor criteria and presence of infection.


1.Scarlet fever is caused by a particular group of strain while rheumatic fever is a complication of scarlet fever.
2.Scarlet fever causes generalized redness of the body plus other complications while rheumatic fever causes a heart problem which is very dangerous in the long run.
3.Scarlet fever is diagnosed through blood tests while rheumatic fever is diagnosed though Jones Criteria.

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