On 2 December, the UK Health and Security Agency published an update on scarlet fever. There were 851 cases reported in week 46 of this year, compared to an average of 186 in preceding years.
Scarlet fever is usually a mild illness, but it is highly infectious. Therefore, individuals should look out for symptoms in their child, which include a sore throat, headache, and fever, along with a fine, pinkish or red body rash with a sandpapery feel. On darker skin, the rash can be more difficult to detect visually but will have a sandpapery feel.
Individuals should contact NHS 111 or their GP if they suspect their child has scarlet fever, because early treatment of scarlet fever with antibiotics is important to reduce the risk of complications such as pneumonia or a bloodstream infection.
If a child has scarlet fever, individuals should keep them at home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the infection to others.
Scarlet fever is caused by bacteria called group A streptococci. These bacteria also cause other respiratory and skin infections such as strep throat and impetigo.
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