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Preventing rheumatic fever

NHS Choices Medical Reference

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Prompt treatment of a streptococcal throat infection with antibiotics will also help minimise the risk of the infection developing into rheumatic fever.

It can be hard to tell the difference between a viral infection of the throat (which does not require antibiotics) and a streptococcal throat infection.

Signs that a throat infection may be bacterial rather than viral include:

  • the sudden onset of a sore throat,
  • pain on swallowing,
  • high temperature (fever) of or above 38°C (100°F),
  • headache,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting, and
  • abdominal pain.

Unlike viral infections, bacterial throat infections tend not to cause coughing, diarrhoea or a hoarse voice.

If you are concerned that you or your child may have a bacterial throat infection, contact your GP as they can arrange to take a swab from the throat, which can be used to confirm whether the infection is viral or bacterial in origin.

Medical Review: December 03, 2009

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