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Cases of scarlatina at 49 year high

It was reported in the news last week that cases of scarlatina or what’s more commonly known as scarlet fever is at a 49 year high. In 2013, there were just 4,642 cases reported in England and Wales but this increased to 15,625 cases in 2014 – that’s a 236% jump. This has continued to increase with 17,586 cases reported in 2015. It’s not quite clear yet the cause of this significant increase but it might just be down to a natural cycle.

Public Health England has alerted doctors to look out for it when they’re assessing patients. Scarlet fever is a bacterial infection which is most common in children especially between the ages of two and eight. It’s spread through close contact with people carrying the streptococcus bacteria so outbreaks usually occur in nurseries and schools.

It’s highly contagious so if your child comes down with scarlet fever you should keep them off school or nursery. It should only take them four to five days to recover so they’ll be back playing with their friends in no time at all.

Early symptoms to look out for include a sore throat, headache and high temperature. A rash will appear a couple of days later which usually starts on the chest and stomach then spreads to other parts of the body.

Scarlet fever was a serious illness back in Victorian times but these days most cases are usually mild and they can be easily treated with antibiotics.
If your child completes their course of antibiotics they should be right as rain but if there’s no improvement within a few days you should seek urgent medical attention. Potential complications include ear infection, throat abscess and pneumonia.
Schools and nurseries should be aware of the current high levels of scarlet fever and it’s important that they take the relevant steps to avoid an outbreak.

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