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How to spot the symptoms of Scarlet Fever as infections reach highest levels in UK since 1960s

With the number of cases of scarlet fever rising, parents are being urged to be aware of the symptoms

The number of children becoming infected with scarlet fever in the UK has hit levels not seen in decades.

The infection is caused by the streptococcus bacteria and tends to affect young children – although it can effect anyone.

It tends to cause sore throat and feverish symptoms, followed by a characteristic blotchy pink-red rash on the body.

Up until 2013, the NHS said cases were at a low of around three to eight cases per 100,000 people.

However, in 2014 this shot up to 27 per 100,000, reaching as high as 33 per 100,000 in 2016.

scarlet-fever

In 2016 there were over 19,000 reported cases the most since 1967. The figures for 2017 will be released later this year.

Dr Theresa Lamagni, head of streptococcal surveillance at Public Health England, said: “Whilst current rates are nowhere near those seen in the early 1900s, the magnitude of the recent upsurge is greater than any documented in the last century.

“We encourage parents to be aware of the symptoms of scarlet fever and to contact their GP if they think their child might have it.”

While is not normally serious, it does require prompt treatment with antibiotics to reduce the risk of more serious complications.

It can take up to a week for the symptoms to appear after being infected. These usually manifest themselves as a sore throat, headache, swollen glands and a high temperature of 38.3C (101F) or above.

scarlet-fever-1

This is then followed by the well-known rash over the body and rash along with a white and red tongue.

It is usually around a week, with most cleared up before the end of seven days. There may be a few weeks of peeling skin after the infection has passed.

Scarlet fever is spread by coughs, sneezes and an infected person’s breath and it is highly contagious.

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