RISE IN CASES OF SCARLET FEVER IN LONDON – HERE’S HOW TO SPOT IT AND TREAT IT
A TOTAL of 36 cases of the contagious disease scarlet fever were reported in London early this month.
In the week ending December 2, 10 cases of the potentially deadly disease were reported to Public Health England in inner London and 26 in outer London. Despite the disease being most common in the spring, there has been a recent rise.
Public Health England puts together a report every week monitoring the number of cases of infectious diseases across the country.
The Notification of Infectious Diseases report for the week ending December 2 shows that in west London, there were three cases in Brent, one case in Ealing, two cases in Hounslow, one case in Kingston Upon Thames and three in Richmond Upon Thames.
Although scarlet fever looks worrying with its ugly red rashes – and it was often deadly for children in Victorian times – these days it is usually not fatal if treated, according to the NHS.
Children can be particularly vulnerable to the illness and families should know what to do if they find themselves affected by an outbreak.
What is scarlet fever?
Scarlet fever is caused by bacteria known as group A streptococcus (GAS). It is spread through close contact with people carrying the organism, often in the throat, or by touching objects and surfaces contaminated with the bacterium.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms include a sore throat, headache and fever accompanied by a characteristic pink red rash that feels like sandpaper.
When to see your GP
The NHS advice is to see your GP or call 111 as soon as possible if:
■ You think your child has scarlet fever
■ You have symptoms of scarlet fever
■ You or your child have been treated for scarlet fever but the symptoms haven’t improved after a week or are getting worse
Treatment with antibiotics is recommended to reduce the length of time the infection is contagious, speed up recovery and reduce the risk of any further problems.
Your GP can usually diagnose scarlet fever by looking at the rash.
Sometimes they may use a cotton bud to remove a bit of saliva from the throat so it can be tested.
How is scarlet fever treated?
Your GP will prescribe antibiotics (or liquid for young children) to take for five or 10 days.
You or your child should start feeling better after a day or two, but make sure you finish the whole course of treatment.
Scarlet fever usually clears up within a week, although the skin may peel for a few weeks after the other symptoms have passed.
The infection is contagious from before the symptoms appear, until 24 hours after starting antibiotic treatment and up to two or three weeks later if you don’t take antibiotics.
Cont.act your GP if you or your child gets any new symptoms that you’re worried about in the weeks after a scarlet fever infection.
The symptoms can be spread through coughs and sneezes.
What the symptoms could also be
There are many other illnesses that can cause a spotty or blotchy red rash, including roseola, slapped cheek syndrome, measles, rubella and meningitis.
A little girl with scarlet fever