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A man with intermittent fever and arthralgia
  1. Susan M Knight,
  2. Deborah P M Symmons
  1. Department of Rheumatology, Macclesfield District General Hospital, Victoria Road, Macclesfield, Cheshire SK10 3BL
  1. Dr Symmons.

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Case report

A 44 year old, previously healthy, white man, who was a milk depot manager, was referred to a general physician in November 1991 with a 16 month history of febrile episodes, lasting for three or four days, which recurred approximately every six weeks. During the episodes his temperature rose to 40°C, he felt flu-like and had aching limbs and profuse night sweats. He had no other symptoms of note and in particular no rash, no weight loss, no joint swelling, and no gastrointestinal or genitourinary symptoms. There was a family history of thyroid disease. He smoked 15–20 cigarettes a day. He had been on holiday to Tunisia in 1987, the Greek islands in 1990 and Portugal in 1991. He weighed 81.2 kg. No abnormalities were found on examination. Initial investigations focused on screening for infection. Full blood count, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, renal function, liver function, thyroid function, chest radiography, and computed tomography of the abdomen were normal. Blood cultures were negative, as were a Mantoux test and early morning urine analysis for tuberculosis. He also had negative serology for syphilis, brucella, toxoplasma, and leptospirosis.

In May 1992 the febrile episodes became more frequent and he was referred for a second opinion to an infectious diseases unit. The differential diagnosis included an occult infection and a connective disease. An infection screen was again negative. Rheumatoid factor, anti-nucleur antibodies, and ds-DNA antibodies were negative and immunoglobulin concentrations were normal. It was suggested that he might have adult onset Still’s disease. In November 1992 he was referred and admitted to a teaching hospital rheumatology unit for further investigation of his intermittent fevers and arthralgia. The arthralgia affected predominantly the left knee and shoulder. Examination was again normal with no rash, no lymphadenopathy and no synovitis. The differential diagnosis included occult infection, a malignancy …

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