Parents should be on the lookout for symptoms of scarlet fever, which include a sore throat, headache and fever, Public Health England have advised.
According to the latest statistics, 6316 cases of scarlet fever have been reported since mid-September 2018, compared to an average of 6680 for the same period over the last 5 years. There were 409 cases reported for the most recent week (18 to 24 February 2019).
‘It’s not uncommon to see a rise in cases of scarlet fever at this time of year,’ said Dr Theresa Lamagni, Senior Epidemiologist at Public Health England.
‘Scarlet fever is contagious but not usually serious and can be treated with antibiotics to reduce the risk of complications and spread to others. We are monitoring the situation closely and remind parents to be aware of the symptoms of scarlet fever and to contact their GP for assessment if they think their child might have it.’
Early treatment with antibiotics is important as it helps reduce the risk of complications such as pneumonia and the spread of the infection to others. Children or adults diagnosed with scarlet fever should be advised to stay at home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the infection to others.
‘Patients with scarlet fever usually present with flu-like symptoms including a sore throat, fever and headache, as well as a characteristic rosy rash – usually on the patient’s chest initially,’ said Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs. ‘Scarlet fever is a bacterial infection that generally affects children under 10 more than teenagers or adults. It is very contagious but can be quickly and effectively treated with a full course of antibiotics. GPs would also recommend patients to rest, drink plenty of fluids, and use antihistamine tablets or calamine lotion for relief of symptoms related to the rash