Public Health England (PHE) has published new guidance on the public health managing scarlet fever outbreaks in schools, nurseries and other childcare settings.
The guidance has been issued to support local health protection staff working closely with schools, nurseries and colleagues in local authorities, to control outbreaks of scarlet fever in child care settings and protect vulnerable children and adults. Discussing the new guidance, Dr Vanessa Saliba, PHE consultant epidemiologist, said: 'The guidance has been developed in response to the current high levels of scarlet fever to assist local health protection teams in controlling the spread of infection in schools and nurseries when an outbreak is identified. The guidelinesare based on a rapid review of the evidence and expert advice and will be kept under review as new evidence emerges.'
Scarlet fever is a seasonal infection caused by group A Streptococcus bacterium, with cases tending to spike in the winter months, although a small number of cases are reported year round. Speaking about the possible reasons for the large increase in the number of cases this year, a PHE spokesperson said: 'We are currently investigating the reasons behind the unusually high incidence. One possibility is the introduction of a new strain [of bacteria]. To help assess this, we are working closely with microbiologists to obtain a representative sample of strains from across the country.'
So far, 7198 cases of scarlet fever have been reported this season. Eighty per cent of those affected are aged between two and 10.
European nurses association launched
A new organisation for nurses interested in respiratory conditions has been launched across Europe.
The European Respiratory Nurses Association (ERNA) aims to provide specialist nurses with research, education, advocacy and clinical knowledge in respiratory conditions. One of the focuses of the organisation will be to share resources and information so that nurses can learn from each other and improve the care of people with respiratory illness. The ERNA website will direct nurses to key resources and publications. The website can be accessed at www.erna.eu.
Birthe Hellquist Dahl, a member of the ERNA steering group, said: 'As chairwoman of the Danish national respiratory nursing society, I am delighted to join and welcome ERNA, offering nurses across Europe a unique platform to share knowledge of best practice in management of patients with respiratory diseases.'