Rheumatic fever historical perspective

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Lance Christiansen, D.O.; Anthony Gallo, B.S. [2]


Rheumatic fever was first described by Hippocrates, a Greek physician, between 400-370 B.C.[1] The term "rheumatic fever" was first used post-Renaissance by Guillaume de Baillou, a French physician, in the early 1600s. T. Duckett Jones, MD was the first person to publish a set of diagnostic criteria in 1944.[2]

Historical Perspective

  • Between 400-370 B.C., rheumatic fever was first described by Hippocrates, a Greek physician.[1]
  • In the early 1600s, the term "rheumatic fever" was first used post-Renaissance by Guillaume de Baillou, a French physician.
  • In the late 1600s, Thomas Sydenham described a case of severe rheumatic fever.
  • In 1771, the term "rheumatic fever" first appeared with a description in Encyclopedia Britannica's first edition.
  • In the 1850s, the number of cases of rheumatic fever began to decline worldwide.
  • In the 1900s, high-grade cases of rheumatic fever became less common in modernized parts of the world.[3]
  • In World War II, conditions of over-crowding developed in military training sites and rheumatic fever became more common.
  • In 1944, U.S. Naval leaders hired T. Duckett Jones, MD to study rheumatic fever's epidemiology and clinical development. Dr. Jones devised certain a criteria for the diagnosis of rheumatic fever that is still in use today, albeit in a modified form.[4] The disease was not common in the United States, and usually occurs in isolated outbreaks.
  • In the 1980s, the most recent outbreak of rheumatic fever occurred in the United States.
  • In the present day, rheumatic fever is more common worldwide, especially in overcrowded areas.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Quinn RW (1991). "Did scarlet fever and rheumatic fever exist in Hippocrates' time?". Rev Infect Dis. 13 (6): 1243–4. PMID 1775859.
  2. THE DIAGNOSIS OF RHEUMATIC FEVER. JAMA (2015). http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=271116 Accessed on October 9, 2015
  3. Bejiqi RA, Retkoceri R, Zeka N, Bejiqi H, Retkoceri A (2015). "Heart lesion after the first attack of the rheumatic Fever 22 years experience in single centre". Med Arch. 69 (1): 49–53. doi:10.5455/medarh.2015.69.49-53. PMC 4384842. PMID 25870479.
  4. "Guidelines for the diagnosis of rheumatic fever. Jones Criteria, 1992 update. Special Writing Group of the Committee on Rheumatic Fever, Endocarditis, and Kawasaki Disease of the Council on Cardiovascular Disease in the Young of the American Heart Association". JAMA. 268 (15): 2069–73. 1992. PMID 1404745.

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