Cases of scarlet fever nine times higher than same period last year
Rise could be due to increased awareness and reporting
There were 27 cases reported in Bucks in the week to March 25 alone, the highest number in one week since the start of 2018. The number of reports to Public Health England (PHE) is nine times higher than the three cases recorded in the same week in 2017, and up from 15 in 2016 and 10 in 2015.
Of the cases reported, 11 were in Aylesbury Vale, seven in Wycombe, five in Chiltern and two in South Bucks.
Across England and Wales, there were 1,977 reports of scarlet fever in the week ending March 25, up from 1,805 the week before and more than double the 711 reported in the same week in 2017.
Earlier in February, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Scarlet Fever is a bacterial infection that usually presents with a sore throat, fever, headaches, and a rosy rash that gen- erally starts on a patient’s chest.
“It is very contagious disease and much more common in children under 10 than teenagers or adults, but it can be treated quickly and effectively with a full course of antibiotics and all GPs are trained to diagnose and treat it.
“Scarlet fever used to be a lot more common than it is now, but GPs are noticing more cases than in previous years at the moment. If a patient thinks that they, or their child, might have symptoms, they should seek medical assistance.”
Scarlet fever is usually a mild illness; PHE is advising parents to be on the lookout for scarlet fever symptoms, which include a sore throat, headache and fever with a characteristic fine, pinkish or red rash with a sandpapery feel. If signs of scarlet fever are suspected, it is important to contact your local GP or NHS 111.
Nick Phin, Deputy Director at Public Health England, said: “It’s not uncommon to see a rise in cases of scarlet fever at this time of year.
“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. Whilst there has been a notable increase in scarlet fever cases when compared to last season, greater awareness and improved reporting practices may have contributed to this increase.”
PHE is also urging GPs, paediatricians, and health practitioners to promptly notify local health protection teams of cases.