Parents warn of dangerous chickenpox and scarlet fever ‘cocktails’ as rashes rise

PARENTS across the country have been warned of a ‘cocktail’ of chickenpox and scarlet fever putting children at risk.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) issued an alert after 3,488 reports of scarlet fever were reported in England between September 2021 and March 2022.

Parents have been warned as cases of scarlet fever have risen

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Parents have been warned as cases of scarlet fever have risenCredit: Alamy

The number is compared to an average of 8,605 for the same period over the previous five years.

However, the fact that chickenpox is also increasing makes it more dangerous for children, since the mixture of the two bacterial infections could make treatment more difficult.

Experts say many common infections have fallen during the lockdown but are now circulating at higher levels, affecting preschools and nurseries in particular.

While levels for both infections are in line with expectations at this time of year, concerns have been raised that the bacteria that causes scarlet fever (group A streptococci) could aggravate other skin infections such as chickenpox.

Scarlet fever is usually a mild but highly contagious disease, leading the UKHSA to urge parents to be on the lookout for symptoms.

Symptoms of scarlet fever can include a sore throat, headache, and fever with a characteristic pink or red rash.

If signs of scarlet fever are suspected it is important to contact your GP or NHS 111.

Treating scarlet fever early with antibiotics is important as it helps reduce the risk of complications such as pneumonia and spreading the infection to others.

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Children or adults diagnosed with scarlet fever are advised to stay home for at least 24 hours after starting antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the infection to others.

Dominic Mellon, deputy director of health protection at UKHSA South West, said: “It is not unusual to see an increase in cases of scarlet fever at this time of year and we continue to monitor infection rates.

“Scarlet fever is highly contagious but usually not serious and is easily treated with antibiotics. It is important to take antibiotics when prescribed by a general practitioner to minimize the risk of complications and transmission to others.

“We remind parents and carers to be aware of the symptoms of scarlet fever and to call their GP or NHS 111 for further advice or assessment if they think their child may have it. Symptoms to look out for include fever, sore throat, and a pink-red rash that feels like sandpaper.

“To limit the spread of scarlet fever, it’s important to practice good hygiene by washing your hands with warm water and soap, not sharing drinking glasses or utensils, and covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing.”

On the other hand, chickenpox is another highly contagious infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus and is characterized by a characteristic blistering rash on the face that spreads over the body to the arms and legs.

Although generally mild in otherwise healthy children, it can be more severe in pregnant women and immunocompromised individuals.

Scarlet fever symptoms include the characteristic red rash

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Scarlet fever symptoms include the characteristic red rashCredit: Alamy

Children with chickenpox should stay at home until they are better and the rash is gone.

During the pandemic, Covid measures such as social distancing, improved hygiene and school and kindergarten closures kept cases below average.

The North West has the highest rate of scarlet fever of any region in England.

It is usually a mild illness, but rare symptoms of group A streptococcal infection can include septicemia (infection in the blood), which can be potentially fatal.

Other rare symptoms can occur when scarlet fever is circulating at the same time as other skin infections — like chickenpox.

Schools and kindergartens can be breeding grounds for the spread of the beetle.

Treating scarlet fever early with antibiotics is important as it helps reduce the risk of complications such as pneumonia and spreading the infection to others.

This is how you protect yourself and your family

dr Merav Kliner, UKHSA’s interim Deputy Regional Director for the North West, said people could protect themselves by:

  • Do not share eating utensils with an infected person
  • Washing or disposing of tissues and handkerchiefs that have been contaminated by an infected person
  • Be aware that people can get scarlet fever by breathing in airborne droplets if someone with the disease coughs or sneezes into the air near them
  • Use a tissue to catch, dispose of, and kill germs
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If you think you or your child has scarlet fever, see a doctor, and if you or your child are prescribed antibiotics, make sure you take the full course.

Current guidelines indicate that children should return to daycare or school no earlier than 24 hours after starting treatment, and adults should return to work to avoid spreading the infection.

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https://www.thesun.ie/health/8629746/parents-warned-dangerous-chickenpox-scarlet-fever-cocktail/ Parents warn of dangerous chickenpox and scarlet fever ‘cocktails’ as rashes rise

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