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Scarlet Fever Making a Comeback

March 13, 2014
Public Health

bacteriaFigures released by Public Health England (PHE) show there were 868 notified cases of scarlet fever in England in the first two months of 2014, the highest recorded for 24 years.

The bacterial infection, which was prevalent in the 19th and early 20th centuries, had a mortality rate of 5% in 1914. Treatment with antibiotics proved successful in cutting the death toll, but there were still 47,919 cases in the country in 1949.

Modern techniques mean that is now rare for complications (which include pneumonia and meningitis) to develop. PHE’s head of streptococcal infection surveillance Dr Theresa Lamagni said, ‘The first symptoms of scarlet fever often include a sore throat, headache, fever, nausea, and vomiting. Between 12 to 48 hours after this, a characteristic rash develops. Cases are more common in children, although adults can also develop scarlet fever.”

Scarlet fever is extremely contagious, passing from person to person by droplet spread or close contact. Infection levels tend to run in four year cycles, with most cases occurring between December and April, when the spread of infection by coughing and sneezing is most common. PHE have issued advice to schools in some areas telling them how to spot the condition, and will continue to monitor the situation to halt the spread of infection.

You can find out more about scarlet fever here