Medicine: Return of A Childhood Scourge

Rheumatic fever makes a mysterious and troubling comeback

"We thought it was over," says Blaise Congeni, chief of infectious diseases at Children's Hospital in Akron. "Now all of a sudden, it's back." The object of Dr. Congeni's concern: rheumatic fever, the fearsome scourge that killed or crippled thousands of American children annually during the first half of the century. Last year doctors reported hundreds of cases of a disease that had all but disappeared from the U.S. more than a decade ago. First spotted in Utah in 1985, the new miniepidemic has hit cities in Ohio and $ western Pennsylvania, as well as Denver, Boston and Dallas. At two...

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