EVERY parent needs to know the signs of dangerous scarlet fever, experts warn.
The disease, which used to kill large thousands back in the 19th century, is on the rise – particularly among kids.
Alamy Rosy cheeks are one of the main symptoms of scarlet fever
It’s a seasonal illness that’s most common around this time of year.
The latest report by Public Health England (PHE) showed that 6,316 cases of scarlet fever have been reported since mid-September 2018, with 409 cases reported last week.
It’s usually quite a mild illness that can be easily treated with antibiotics but is incredibly infectious.
You’re infectious for up to seven days before the symptoms start and you remain highly infectious for two weeks after symptoms begin if you don’t start on a course of antibiotics.PHE is warning parents to be on the lookout for telltale symptoms
If you think that your child might have scarlet fever, then you need to contact your GP or ring NHS 111.
While scarlet fever is easily treatable, it really just depends on how early you catch it.
Leaving it too late can lead to much more serious complications, such as pneumonia – an illness which kills more kids than any other disease in the UK.
Early detection really is vital
If you or your child has it, you need to stay at home for at least 24 hours after starting the antibiotic treatment, so that you don’t spread it to other people.
Dr Theresa Lamagni, Senior Epidemiologist at Public Health England, said: “It’s not uncommon to see a rise in cases of scarlet fever at this time of year.
Symptoms of scarlet feverRemember, you can be infectious for up to a week before any symptoms start to be visible.
But when they do kick in, they can include:
high temperature of 38’C or above
swollen neck glands
a pink-red rash that looks a bit like sunburn. Starts on the chest and tummy
a white coating on the tongue
swollen, red, peeling tongue
“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.”
She said that PHE is investigating possible reasons for why there’s been a rise in scarlet fever cases over the past few years.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “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.
Refer to Source – Alamy The rash might look a little like sunburn, and will start on the belly and chest before spreading to the limbs
“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.
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“We have seen more cases of scarlet fever in the last few years than we’ve been used to – we’re unsure why this is, but if patient thinks that they, or their child, might have symptoms, then they should seek medical advice.”
According to the NHS, your GP can often tell if someone’s got the infection simply by looking at the tongue and rash.
While the antibiotics they’ll prescribe won’t cure scarlet fever, they’ll stop you from being infectious within 24 hours and will make you less likely to develop something like pneumonia.
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