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FMF: Familial Mediterranean fever

What is FMF?

FMF is a periodic fever syndrome characterized by recurrent bouts of fever with accompanying pain. It is inherited and usually becomes apparent before 30 years of age.

How common is FMF?

It is most prevalent in the eastern Mediterranean region occurring with a frequency of 1-5 cases per 10,000 people. From a worldwide perspective, it is a rare disease.

What are the symptoms?

FMF flares lasting from a few hours to 3 or 4 days can involve the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Abdominal and/or chest pain
  • Painful joints of the legs and ankles
  • Painful skin rash, often around the lower legs and ankles

FMF flares can occur spontaneously or be triggered by physical or emotional stress, the menstrual cycle, or diet.

Possible symptoms of FMF illustration

Possible symptoms of FMF

What typically happens over the course of the illness?

If FMF is untreated, repeated attacks may result in amyloidosis, a condition in which protein builds up in the kidneys and causes kidney damage.

What causes FMF?

FMF is an inherited disorder caused by gene mutations; a person is at risk of having FMF only if they inherited the gene mutation on chromosomes received from both parents.


1. Ciccarelli F, De Martinis M, Ginaldi L. Curr Med Chem. 2014; 21: 261–269.
2. Lachmann HJ, Hawkins PN. Arthritis Res Ther. 2009; 11: 212.
3. NORD. Familial Mediterranean Fever. Available at Accessed January 17, 2017.

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