Over 300 suspected scarlet fever cases across South Wales
MORE than 300 suspected cases of scarlet fever have been reported in South Wales in the first three months of 2018.
Scarlet fever, also called scarlatina, causes a blotchy, pink-red rash and mostly affects children under 10. In rare cases, it can cause severe illnesses like pneumonia, sepsis and liver and kidney damage, but it is rarely serious and can be treated with antibiotics.
From the start of the year up to April 1, 332 cases have been reported in South Wales to Public Health England (PHE), which collects reports for both England and Wales. The figure for the whole of Wales is 882 suspected cases.
The number of cases in South Wales is 2.7 times higher than the 122 in 2017 during the same period, and compares to 194 reported in 2016 and 92 in 2015.
Cardiff saw the highest number of reports in the first 13 weeks of the year in South Wales (98), up from 14 in the same period in 2017.
It was followed by Rhondda Cynon Taff with 77 cases (up from six), with 67 cases in the Vale of Glamorgan, 58 in Bridgend, 26 in Caerphilly, and six in Merthyr Tydfil.
Several schools across South Wales, including Cardiff High School, sent letters home last month warning parents to be vigilant and to keep their children home for at least 24 hours if they have symptoms.
Dad Stephen Hewitt, from Pontypridd, said his four-year-old son Glynn was diagnosed with scarlet fever following a trip to the GP a fortnight ago.
“He woke up in morning with very the red cheeks,” he said. “My wife had a quick look online and thought that it might be slapped cheek syndrome [parvovirus].
“We kept him home from school for the day, took him to the doctor, who confirmed it was scarlet fever.
“Luckily he didn’t seem to be too badly affected by it. He carried on more or less as normal, but I guess that’s down to the antibiotics working.
“There still seems to be a stigma attached to the illness.”
The number of reports across Wales is 1.7 times higher than the 520 reported in the same 13 weeks in 2017, and compares to 605 reported in 2016 and 409 in 2015.
Professor Helen StokesLampard, chairwoman 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 generally 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.”
The signs and symptoms of scarlet fever include a sore throat, fever, headaches, swollen lymph nodes and a characteristic rash