What symptoms to look for as Scarlet Fever cases reach 50-year high

Scarlet Fever symptoms. Photo: NHS
Scarlet Fever symptoms. Photo: NHS
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Highly contagious bacterial illness Scarlet Fever has hit its highest level in England for 50 years.

Research by medical journal The Lancet, shows that more than 17,000 cases were reported in 2016.

The disease has been on the rise since 2014, but experts have so far been unable to find the reason for the recent rise.

Here is everything parents need to know about Scarlet Fever:

What is Scarlet Fever?

Scarlet fever is a bacterial illness that mainly affects children and is distinctive due to its pink-red rash. It is highly contagious and should be treated with antibiotics.

Dr Theresa Lamagni, the body’s head of streptococcal infection surveillance, said: “Whilst scarlet fever is not usually a severe illness it should be treated with antibiotics to reduce the risk of further complications and to minimise the risk of spread to others.”

What are the symptoms?

Dr Lamagni added: “Individuals should be mindful of the symptoms of scarlet fever, which include a sore throat, headache and fever with a sandpapery, fine, pinkish/red rash developing within one to two days of first symptoms.

“If you or your child develops any of these symptoms you should contact your GP. Children or adults diagnosed with scarlet fever are advised to stay at home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the infection to others.”

A Public Health England spokeswoman added: “It’s not uncommon to see more cases of scarlet fever during winter and spring.

“Although we have seen a small increase in cases this year, scarlet fever is usually a mild illness that can be treated with antibiotics to reduce the risk of further complications and to minimise the risk of its spread to others.

“Children or adults diagnosed with scarlet fever are advised to stay at home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the infection to others.”

What is the treatment?

Treatment of a five or 10 day course of antibiotics will usually be prescribed by a GP. While taking antibiotics it is also recommended to rest, drink plenty of fluids and take paracetamol or ibuprofen if suffering with discomfort or a high temperature.

Where can you get more information?

For more information, visit the NHS Choices website here