Over 300 sus­pected scar­let fever cases across South Wales

Cynon Valley - - HEALTH & LIFESTYLE - MaRK smITH mark.smith@waleson­line.co.uk

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

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