Fever of unknown origin

Steven Vanderschueren and Daniël Knockaert

in Oxford Textbook of Medicine

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print May 2010 | ISBN: 9780199204854
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199570973 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Textbooks

Fever of unknown origin

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  • Medical Microbiology and Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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Fever of unknown origin (FUO) refers to a prolonged febrile illness that persists without diagnosis after careful initial assessment. Although over 200 causes have been described, including rare diseases, most cases are due to familiar entities presenting in an atypical fashion.

Causes of FUO—The ‘big three’ are (1) infections—including tuberculosis, endocarditis, abdominal and hepatobiliary infections and abscesses, complicated genitourinary tract infections, pleuropulmonary infections, bone and joint infections, salmonellosis, cytomegalovirus, Epstein–Barr virus and HIV; (2) tumours—including lymphoma; and (3) multisystem inflammatory conditions—including connective tissue diseases, vasculitic syndromes and granulomatous disorders. A miscellaneous category including factitious fever, habitual hyperthermia, and drug fever deserves consideration early in a patient’s workup, since timely recognition may avert invasive and expensive procedures....

Chapter.  3632 words. 

Subjects: Medical Microbiology and Virology ; Infectious Diseases

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