Parents encouraged to be aware of scarlet fever symptoms by Anastasiya AdobeStock_180832760

Nearly 250 cases in the last week to 5th May

The latest report by Public Health England (PHE) on seasonal levels of Group A streptococcal infection, published on 10 May 2019, shows that 9,887 cases of scarlet fever have been reported since mid-September 2018, compared to an average of 14,128 for the same period over the last 5 years.

There were 247 cases reported for the most recent week (29 April to 5 May 2019).

Dr Theresa Lamagni, Senior Epidemiologist at Public Health England, said:

“National levels of scarlet fever this season have remained relatively low compared to the past 5 seasons. We continue to advise parents to look out for the symptoms such as a sore throat, fever and rash, and to contact their GP or NHS 111 if they spot symptoms or have concerns.

“Scarlet fever, which mainly affects young children, is not usually a serious illness and can be easily treated with appropriate antibiotics.”

Scarlet fever is usually a mild illness but it is highly infectious. PHE is advising parents to be on the lookout for symptoms, which include a sore throat, headache and fever with a characteristic fine, pinkish or red body rash with a sandpapery feel. If signs of scarlet fever are suspected, it is important to contact your local GP or NHS 111.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

“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.”

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 are advised to stay at home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the infection to others.