Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Haiti's Rheumatic Fever
Rheumatic fever is a disease of poverty and social injustice.
Most of the reduction in cases of rheumatic fever is attributable to improved living conditions, which have resulted in less overcrowding and better hygiene, with reduction of transmission of group A streptococci.
In the mid 20th century, children with rheumatic fever occupied many of the beds in pediatric wards in industrialized countries--indeed, entire hospitals were dedicated to the treatment of, and rehabilitation from, rheumatic fever. But in the latter half of the 2Oth century, rheumatic fever receded as an important health problem in almost all wealthy countries.
Today, most physicians in these countries are unlikely ever to see a case of acute rheumatic fever, and their experience with rheumatic fever, and their experience with rheumatic heart disease will be limited to heart-valve lesions in older patients who had rheumatic fever in their youth.