Scarlet fever symptoms as parents urge to be on the lookout

At least nine children across the UK are believed to have died from an invasive form of Strep A bacteria.

According to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), cases of Scarlet fever are higher than we would normally see at this time of year – 851 cases were reported between November 14 and 20, compared to an average of 186 in previous years.

Scarlet fever is “usually a mild disease but highly contagious”, according to the UKHSA. It is caused by group A streptococci, and in very rare cases, these bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause invasive group A streptococci.

The bacterium is spread through contact with an infected person or contact with infected skin lesions.

UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) officials have indicated that a lack of mixing due to the Covid pandemic and vulnerability in children is likely to “bring the normal scarlet fever season forward from Spring to this side of Christmas”.

Downing Street has urged parents to be on the lookout for symptoms earlier this week following a spike in infections caused by the virus Strep A bacteria.

Officials said they “fully understand” parents were concerned about rising cases, but stressed the NHS is “well prepared” for such situations.

When asked about the recent spike in cases, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We are seeing a higher number of cases of Group A Strep this year than usual.

“The bacteria we know cause a mild infection that is easily treated with antibiotics and, in rare cases, can enter the bloodstream and cause serious illness.

“It’s still uncommon, but it’s important for parents to be on the lookout for symptoms.

“But the NHS is well prepared to deal with situations like this by working with the UK Health Security Agency.”

Online NHS information suggests that Strep A infections such as scarlet fever can be treated with the antibiotics penicillin and amoxicillin.

Can adults get scarlet fever?

Anyone can get scarlet fever, although it’s more common in children than adults, with the infection being most common in children ages 5 to 15.

Scarlet fever is caused by a bacterium called group A streptococcus and can complicate other skin infections like chickenpox when both infections are circulating, as is currently the case.

Symptoms of Scarlet Fever

Scarlet fever is usually a mild disease but highly contagious. As such, the UKHSA advises parents to be on the lookout for symptoms including a sore throat, headache and fever with a characteristic fine, pink or red rash that feels like sandpaper.

What to do if you suspect scarlet fever?

If signs of scarlet fever are suspected it is important to contact your local GP or NHS 111. Treating scarlet fever early with antibiotics is important as it will help reduce the risk of complications such as pneumonia and spreading the infection to others.

How long is scarlet fever contagious?

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. Scarlet fever symptoms as parents urge to be on the lookout

Fry Electronics Team

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